As gas prices soar, so do Big Oil’s pollution and profits
Despite their promises to reduce emissions, oil giants are using gas prices as an excuse to pollute even more — all while raking in record profits.
Emily Sanders is the Center for Climate Integrity’s editorial lead. Catch up with her on Twitter here.
Expert congressional witnesses confirmed last week what we all knew to be true: Big Oil’s emissions pledges do less than nothing to address their role in causing and perpetuating the climate crisis. In many cases, they actually allow oil giants to expand their climate pollution under the guise of “net zero.”
While these companies spend millions promoting false commitments, the rest of us are paying the price. Now, Big Oil has found yet another excuse to increase its fossil fuel production while claiming to go net zero: the skyrocketing price of gas.
Gas prices in the U.S. have peaked to their highest level since 2014, with the average price of a gallon of gas reaching $3.47 last week. And while working families are shelling it out at the pump, oil majors are reporting their highest profits in years.
In fact, reporting by government watchdog group Accountable.US found that in the first nine months of 2021 alone, oil and gas majors made a combined $174 billion in profits — and that number continues to grow. According to the report, the industry is “taking advantage of bloated prices, fleecing American families along the way.”
The oil and gas industry is even exploiting the crisis in Ukraine to its benefit:
In November, President Biden sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission asking it to investigate “anti-consumer behavior by oil and gas companies” with regard to the spike in gas prices, and “whether illegal conduct is costing families at the pump.” But the American Petroleum Institute, the world’s largest oil and gas trade association, says it’s Biden’s climate policies — the same ones API is spending millions of dollars lobbying against — that are causing the price spike.
No matter the issue, it seems, oil lobbyists want us to believe that policies to address the climate crisis are to blame — and that more fossil fuel production and pollution is the solution. The API has called increased U.S. oil production the “best response” and the “best tool” with which to address the rise in gas prices.
For the record, API is being sued by cities and states across America for lying about the climate consequences of fossil fuels.
The American Petroleum Institute itself has admitted that despite its member companies' promises to be working on climate solutions, transitioning away from fossil fuels isn’t their real plan. Just the opposite: the industry is pursuing more exploration, drilling and production of oil — and using every possible excuse to do so.
While Big Oil continues to lie to protect its profits, communities are paying the price.
A federal report released this week projects that sea-levels will rise an entire foot along U.S. coastlines by 2050 — even if action is taken now to significantly reduce emissions. Global warming driven by fossil fuels has virtually guaranteed a “profound increase in the frequency of coastal flooding, even in the absence of storms or heavy rainfall,” according to the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Reducing emissions as quickly as possible could make the difference between rising seas leveling out at about two feet above the historical average or rising another eight feet by the end of the century, the analysis found.
Another study, published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, found that climate change has rapidly created a more devastating drought in the American West for the past two decades than the region has seen for 1,200 years.
Still, Big Oil wants us to keep drilling and burning, while executives from Chevron, Exxon, Shell and BP are refusing to stop funding climate disinformation and lobbying to prevent action on climate change — even if it means their consumers are paying the price with their homes, health, and economic security.
A second congressional committee is working to expose the oil and gas industry’s deception.
Last week, Reps. Raúl Grijalva and Katie Porter of the House Natural Resources Committee requested information and documents related to work that PR companies completed for oil and gas industry clients. As we’ve discussed here before, the PR industry is facing a reckoning when it comes to enabling the fossil fuel industry’s propaganda.
“Big Oil has been waging a decades-long disinformation campaign to cover up the damage they’re doing to our planet,” Rep. Porter said in a statement. “We know that these companies purposefully withheld data and lobbied against measures that could have saved lives, all in service of their bottom line.”
Board members from Exxon, Chevron, BP, and Shell have been called (again) to show up before the House Oversight Committee to defend their companies’ so-called climate commitments — even, as Chair Carolyn Maloney has suggested, if it means dragging them in through subpoenas.
That makes not one, but two congressional committees looking into Big Oil’s work to spread disinformation about their role in the climate crisis. We’ll keep you up to date with the details here at EXXONKNEWS.
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