American Petroleum Institute

Federal Government Foot-Dragging Helps Oil Industry Delay Oil-by-Rail Rules

Read time: 6 mins

In an attempt to reduce the risk of fiery oil train accidents, the state of Washington is working to pass a bill that would limit the vapor pressure of oil on trains to below 9 pounds per square inch (psi). Vapor pressure is a measure of the volatility of flammable liquids and correlates to their likelihood of igniting. Higher vapor pressure means an oil is more volatile and more likely to ignite and burn when a train derails.

If the federal government won’t act to protect public safety and adopt a safer nationwide standard, we will adopt our own,” state Sen. Andy Billig (D-Spokane) said of the bill he sponsored. “There is just too much to lose — for people and our environment.”

Billig's comments point to the federal government's repeated failure to address the volatility of the oil moving by rail in America.

Oil Industry Ponders Getting ‘Dragged into Low-Carbon Future’ While Claiming it ‘Stepped up’ on Climate

Read time: 8 mins
fossil fuel refinery

The fossil fuel industry's faith that the modern world economy will be powered by its products for the indefinite future is usually unwavering. But cracks in that faith recently appeared in Houston at the top annual oil industry conference, known as CERAweek.

The trade publication Platts S&P Global noted that “talk of oil at CERAWeek felt a bit more lackluster this time around,” according to several attendees. Various pressures — from climate-anxious investors to competition from renewables — apparently are tempering the oil and gas industry's usual optimism.

Energy and Corporate Trade Associations Spend $1.4 Billion on PR Campaigns

Read time: 3 mins
American Petroleum Institute: Men sitting on a bench

Originally posted on Climate Investigations Center.

How much money have the fossil fuel industry’s powerful trade association allies spent to convince the American public that its products are beneficial and necessary — and to stymie progress on climate change that could harm its financial interests?

To find out, Climate Investigations Center researchers analyzed the public relations expenditures of these trade associations going back to 2008, using data from publicly-available federal Form 990 tax records. The expenditures provide unique insight into fossil fuel trade association priorities and the willingness of public relations firms to represent socially harmful industries.

An Illustrated History of What Big Oil Knew About Climate Change—Before the Moon Landing

Read time: 2 mins
Comic showing what Stanford research on climate change told the American Petroleum Institute in 1968

By now, it’s no secret that oil companies have been long aware of the risks of climate change from burning fossil fuels. Exxon had “no doubt” that carbon dioxide was a global threat by the late 1970s, and Shell wrote in 1988 that the resulting climate change might lead to “the greatest [changes] in recorded history.”

But decades before, the oil industry was already privy to — and giving its own internal warnings about — the climate threats of carbon pollution from burning its products. In fact, as one science-and-art collaboration illustrated this week, that was happening before humans even landed on the Moon in 1969.

Top Oil Lobbyist Wants Government Open to Keep Rolling Back Environmental Rules

Read time: 6 mins
A sign indicating the Freer and Sackler art galleries and other Smithsonian museums are closed during the January 2019 government shutdown.

Although the partial U.S. government shutdown, now marching into its fourth week, isn’t hurting the oil and gas industry, according to Mike Sommers, the head of the American Petroleum Institute (API) says he wants the shutdown to end so that the Trump administration can get back to actively helping the industry by meeting federal deadlines for rolling back environmental regulations. 

Nevertheless, there are signs the Trump administration is still at work on that fossil fuel-friendly agenda in some places, such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), despite the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

Decades of Denial and Stalling Have Created a Climate Crunch

Read time: 4 mins
Firefighters spray water on a 2013 bush fire in Australia

In a 1965 speech to members, American Petroleum Institute president Frank Ikard outlined the findings of a report by then-president Lyndon Johnson’s Science Advisory Committee, based in part on research the institute conducted in the 1950s.

The substance of the report is that there is still time to save the world's peoples from the catastrophic consequence of pollution, but time is running out,” Ikard said, adding, “One of the most important predictions of the report is that carbon dioxide is being added to the earth’s atmosphere by the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas at such a rate that by the year 2000 the heat balance will be so modified as possibly to cause marked changes in climate beyond local or even national efforts.”

Many scientists were reaching similar conclusions, based on a body of evidence that had been growing at least since French mathematician Joseph Fourier described the greenhouse effect in 1824. In the 1950s, Russian climatologist Mikhail Budyko examined how feedback loops amplify human influences on the climate. He published two books, in 1961 and 1962, warning that growing energy use will warm the planet and cause Arctic ice to disappear, creating feedback cycles that would accelerate warming.

'Time is Running Out,' American Petroleum Institute Chief Said in 1965 Speech on Climate Change

Read time: 6 mins
Fire crew in California fire

The warning is clear and dire — and the source unexpected. “This report unquestionably will fan emotions, raise fears, and bring demand for action,” the president of the American Petroleum Institute (API) told an oil industry conference, as he described research into climate change caused by fossil fuels.

The substance of the report is that there is still time to save the world's peoples from the catastrophic consequence of pollution, but time is running out.”

Big Oil Cheers Trump's 'New NAFTA' But Mexico Could Complicate Things

Read time: 5 mins
NAFTA logo

While the oil and gas industry has lauded the new trade deal that may soon replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a provision added by Mexico, along with its new president's plan to ban fracking, could complicate the industry's rising ambitions there.

'Mud and Confusion': Oil and Gas Industry Goes On Defense as Studies Show Offshore Exploration Could Kill Zooplankton

Read time: 5 mins
Oil rig in Santa Barbara Channel

We knew it was going to cause a stir,” said Australian marine scientist Dr. Robert McCauley.

McCauley was referring to the results of an experiment testing the impacts of a common oil and gas industry technique in waters off southern Australia, which were reported in a scientific paper in June 2017.

The world’s powerful offshore oil and gas industry has used seismic surveys for decades as the primary way to locate fossil fuels under the ocean floor.

Led by Sempra Energy, 'Global Natural Gas Coalition' Launched with Trump Admin and Labor Union in Fold

Read time: 8 mins
Arctic Lady LNG tanker

San Diego-based Sempra Energy has spearheaded the launch of a group called the Global Natural Gas Coalition to promote exports of gas obtained via fracking (hydraulic fracturing) to the global market. Sempra is a natural gas utility giant and liquefied natural gas (LNG) export and import company.

Announced at a June 25 gathering at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., the Global Natural Gas Coalition features other participants such as the American Petroleum Institute (API)LNG Allies, the American Gas Association, American Chemistry Council, and others, according to its event page on the website Eventbrite. The RSVP information for the Press Club event features the contact information for Paty Mitchell, a spokeswoman for Sempra, and the company's representatives consisted of eight out of the 78 attendees of that event, according to the Eventbrite page.  

Also attending the event were officials from several agencies in the Trump administration. They included Mark Menezes, Elise Atkins, Christine Harbin, Jessica Szymanski, and Sara Kinney of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE); Deaver Alexander, William Thompson, and Stephen Morel of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (a federal agency focused on helping “American businesses invest in emerging markets”); Scott Condren of the U.S. Export-Import Bank; and John McCarrick of the U.S. Department of State.

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