API's 'do-nothing' anti-coal solution

THE American Petroleum Institute has gone on the attack against coal, suggesting that the US should be used at the UN Conference of Parties (COP21) forum in Paris as an example of tackling climate change by marginalising coal as a result of the shale gas boom.

Anthony Barich

“America’s private sector has already taken the lead on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, even as we increase economic activity and domestic energy production to keep energy reliable and affordable for consumers,” API president Jack Gerard said in a conference call.

“Our success is driven, not by government mandate or legislative fiat, but through innovation, investment and entrepreneurial spirit.

“The fact is that the nation’s 21st century energy renaissance, which has made domestically produced natural gas cheap and abundant, has helped us achieve substantial and sustained emissions reductions without command and control style regulatory intervention.”

He sided with the coal industry, however, in criticising US President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan which has hit both coal and gas, accusing the Administration of “last century’s thinking” that increased energy production and achieving climate goals are mutually exclusive.

“Where other nations have pledges, we have progress and results. America’s market-driven success should be the model for the Paris conference,” Gerard said.

“As the president and his advisers work on a climate deal, they should keep consumers and our economy at the forefront.”

The comments add fuel to the fire barely a fortnight out from COP21 forum in Paris where new pledges are likely to be made at the expense of coal, environmentalists have derided the lobby group ‘s comments as benign.

However, the Environmental Defence Fund’s Gwen Ruta dismissed the API’s position as “actually recommending we do nothing”

“Managers don’t cut what they’re getting for free. Instead, costs are shifted to the taxpayers, and Citibank estimates that climate impacts could add up to trillions for economy,” Ruta said.

Gerard’s comments reflect the views of European Big Oil, which has repeatedly spruiked gas as a more climate-friendly option to coal, even going so far as calling for a carbon price, which would further marginalise coal from the global energy mix.

This is where European Big Oil differs from their US counterparts, however, as ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson has said consumers would never accept such a concept.