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US: 3 Companies Quit Group Over Moves on Climate

by John LorincNew York Times
March 1st, 2010

Three large corporations are quitting the Climate Action Partnership, a group in Washington that has sought to find common ground among corporations and environmental groups in battling global warming.

The three companies cited concerns over the direction that climate change legislation has taken in Congress. Oil companies are particularly upset about concessions Congress has made to the coal and utility industries.

In separate statements, BP America, ConocoPhillips and Caterpillar said Tuesday that they were discontinuing membership in the lobbying group, which includes corporate giants like Alcoa and DuPont, and influential environmental organizations like the Nature Conservancy and the Environmental Defense Fund.

In a statement that played down the significance of the departures, the Climate Action Partnership said that “all three companies have provided invaluable assistance, expertise and significant commitments of time and resources” in seeking to advance climate legislation.

In the proposed legislation, Congress granted free emission allowances to coal-burning utilities to forestall the possibility of huge increases in electric bills. Oil companies, by contrast, would have to pay for their emissions if the bill became law, most likely driving up the price of gasoline. (The legislation is stalled at the moment on Capitol Hill, though the Obama administration is trying to revive it.)

James J. Mulva, the chief executive of ConocoPhillips, said Tuesday that “House climate legislation and Senate proposals to date 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.

BP echoed that view, with a spokesman, Ronnie Chappell, saying the company believes it can do more to influence the outcome of pending House and Senate legislation on its own. “Our views are that there are segments of the economy that are largely untouched or aren’t carrying as big a piece of the burden that they might,” he said.

Caterpillar said it would spend its energy on new technologies that could help to cut emissions.

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