February 17, 2010

Three Major Companies Pull Out Of US Climate Coalition

Landmark legislation to cut carbon emissions suffered a huge blow after three major U.S. companies said they were leaving a coalition that pushes for action on climate change, AFP reported.

Oil groups ConocoPhillips and BP America, and equipment maker Caterpillar Inc., said they backed efforts for a green economy but felt that proposed laws were unfair to them.

The companies said they would not renew membership in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), a coalition of business leaders whom Obama's Democratic Party often cites to bulwark its case on climate change.

The bill under consideration did not attach enough importance to natural gas, something ConocoPhillips and BP America, a unit of British giant BP, believe should be promoted as a way to curb carbon emissions blamed for global warming.

Jim Mulva, ConocoPhilips chairman and CEO, said the bills 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 emissions.

USCAP released its own statement saying its membership periodically changed and that it expected more companies to join.

USCAP companies include oil giant Shell, conglomerates General Electric and Honeywell, and Detroit's Big Three automakers -- Chrysler, Ford and General Motors.

The first-ever U.S. plan to force cuts in carbon emissions -- a major priority for the Obama administration, was barely approved by The House of Representatives in June.

However, the Senate has yet to follow suit and the political climate is uncertain after the Democrats last month lost a seat to a critic of the legislation.

"Demand for natural gas stood to stay flat or decline in the next 10 to 15 years due to concessions to the coal industry. We think we can address our concerns around these problem areas better as BP than as a member of USCAP," according to Ronnie Chappell, a spokesman for BP America.

Despite environmentalists' warnings that "clean coal" technology is untested, the legislation devotes resources to developing it in hopes of winning over lawmakers from mining states.

In an effort to build support among Republicans, Senator John Kerry, a top force behind the legislation, has also embraced nuclear power and offshore drilling.

Many key Republican Party figures oppose the climate legislation, arguing it will cost jobs and disputing Obama's assertions it will help start a new green economy.


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