- Some U.S. oil and gas companies were secretly concerned about carbon emissions, while publicly minimizing the issue.
- Carbon emissions have been linked to rising global temperature and more extreme weather patterns, such as extreme heatwaves and fires that have hurt commercial activity around the world.
- Still, several big companies such as BP have installed methane detection devices to curb leaks and have announced plans to cut their methane intensity.
Environmental activists are unsurprised that some players in the U.S. oil and gas industry express secret concerns about carbon emissions linked to climate change while publicly minimizing the problem.
Oil and gas industry representatives are heard expressing concern about the large amounts of natural gas released into the atmosphere from their operations on an audio recording from June last year at a meeting hosted by the Independent Petroleum Association of America, an umbrella group that represents energy companies.
The recording contradicts attempts by the sector to say emissions are being curbed and are under control, the New York Times reports.
The energy industry successfully lobbied the U.S. government last year to overturn proposed Obama-era regulations that would have forced the industry to monitor and reduce methane emissions.
Still, activists at the nonprofit Earthworks are unsurprised the energy industry is sending mixed messages on the matter.
“There is nothing new about the oil and gas industry saying one thing then doing another,” said Lauren Pagel, policy director at Earthworks. “Every major company is on track to expand climate and health pollution in the next decade when science insists that means catastrophe. We need no more proof that permitting of new operations should be halted and strong government rules put in place to cut existing pollution.”
The natural gas flaring and methane emissions are greater problems for small and medium-sized oil and gas companies operating in the U.S. shale oil regions, which covers areas including West Texas and New Mexico. Some smaller producers say they lack the resources to install technology to monitor methane leaks.
Meanwhile, several big companies such as BP have installed methane detection devices to curb leaks. The British company is one of several oil majors that have announced plans to cut methane intensity by 2050 or sooner. Last year, when the U.S. government reversed its position on requiring the sector to install technology to curb methane emissions, BP issued a statement against the move.
“BP believes methane should be directly regulated by the [Environmental Protection Agency] and respectfully disagrees with today’s decision by the administration,” the company said.”Direct federal regulation of methane emissions is essential to preventing leaks throughout the industry and protecting the environment.”