White House climate czar and Big Oil meet, talk cooperation after meeting

Source: By Valerie Volcovici and Jarrett Renshaw, Reuters • Posted: Tuesday, March 23, 2021

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Representatives from the oil and gas industry and national climate adviser Gina McCarthy struck a cooperative tone following a meeting on Monday where the two sides discussed how companies can align with the Biden administration’s ambitious climate goals.

Industry and White House officials after the meeting would not divulge details. Four sources familiar with the meeting on Zoom said it focused on emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from oil and gas production and on the industry’s role in the administration’s plans to decarbonize the U.S. economy.

American Petroleum Institute President Mike Sommers said the trade group emphasized that oil and gas will continue to play a significant role in global energy for decades, but added that the organization is interested in tackling climate change.

“We are committed to working with the White House to develop effective government policies that help meet the ambitions of the Paris Agreement and support a cleaner future.” Sommers said in a statement.

President Joe Biden’s administration is due to propose new regulation on methane from oil and gas operations by September, McCarthy told Reuters in a previous interview.

It will also unveil a new economy-wide emissions reduction target for 2030 to comply with the Paris climate agreement by April 22, when Biden convenes world leaders on climate change.

In a read out of the meeting provided by the White House, McCarthy sought to establish a working relationship with industry even while attempting to crack down on emissions and a host of issues.

“She made clear that the Administration is not fighting the oil and gas sector, but fighting to create union jobs, deploy emission reduction technologies, strengthen American manufacturing, and fuel the American economy,” the readout said.

Trade groups that sent representatives included the API, American Gas Association and the American Exploration & Production Council, a group representing independent producers.

API has started to shift some of its rhetoric on the issue as the climate-focused Biden administration came to power.

In January, the group said for the first time it would support mandatory methane regulations, a change from its previous support of voluntary actions. This month it came out in support of carbon pricing.

Industry groups have criticized Biden’s early executive orders canceling a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and pausing new leases for oil and gas drilling on federal land.

Reporting by Valerie Volcovici and Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by David Gregorio