Three Big Companies Gave USCAP The Shaft

This article has been updated since it was originally published.

ConoccoPhillips recently pulled out of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), a coalition of businesses and environmental groups. Conocco is the third company to pull out, after the British oil giant, BP, and equipment manufacturer, Caterpillar. Conocco’s chairman and CEO, Jim Mulva said in a statement, “House climate legislation and Senate proposals to date have disadvantaged the transportation sector and its consumers, left domestic refineries unfairly penalized versus international competition, and ignored the critical role that natural gas can play in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.”

Mulva continued, “We believe greater attention and resources need to be dedicated to reversing these missed opportunities, and our actions today are part of that effort. Addressing these issues will save thousands of American jobs, as well as create new ones.”

BP spokesman Ronnie Chappell said, “We think the organization has accomplished what it was intended to do. It has established a broad, principle-based framework for climate-change legislation. With the completion of that blueprint, that work was done.” Chappell said BP was concerned that “poorly designed legislation could result in the closure of refineries, an increase of [refined petroleum] product imports and the loss of U.S. jobs.”

Kate Kenny, a Caterpillar spokeswoman, said, “We have decided to direct our resources toward the commercialization of technologies that will promote and provide sustainable development and reduce carbon emissions.” quoted a lobbyist for one of the oil companies leaving USCAP as saying, “It’s all about the effectiveness of the group and whether your voice is being heard or not. . . . We were faced with a decision to renew or exit and we decided to exit. The USCAP position did not reflect the refiners and producers that were brought to the table.”

Frank O’Donnell, president of the advocacy group Clean Air Watch, said, “I don’t necessarily think it means there is a lack of interest, but it underscores the complexity of finding a formula that can bring everybody to the table.”

What USCAP recommends for climate change legislation

Last year, USCAP issued recommendations for congressional legislation on climate change. The recommendations included:

  • Creating a federal cap-and-trade program where one allowance would be created for each ton of GHG emissions. For every ton of GHG emissions, emitters would turn in one allowance. Those who reduce emissions at the lowest cost would buy less allowance and then can sell extra allowances. Credit should be given for those who take early actions to reduce emissions
  • Create a mandatory, national climate protection program with “aggressive emission reduction targets.”
  • Create a Carbon Market Board to set an annual upper limit for offsets beginning at two billion metric tons.
  • Credit for those who take early actions to reduce emissions

USCAP says it will continue

“Our mission is unchanged,” USCAP spokesman Tad Segal said. “We think there’s momentum to get [a climate bill] done. President Obama’s State of the Union address made it clear the administration is behind us,” said Segal.

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by