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BP and ConocoPhillips Pull Out Of Climate Coalition

The big news yesterday was that three companies—BP, ConocoPhillips, and Caterpillar—were pulling out of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a coalition of green groups and businesses that has been pushing for cap-and-trade. The two oil companies, BP and ConocoPhillips, had complained that the House climate bill put a disproportionate burden on transportation fuels and refiners.

In a way, they're right. The House climate bill, after all, was written by Democrats, since most Republicans are too busy cackling about how global warming is all a hoax. And a lot of Democrats represent coal interests, while a lot of Republicans represent oil interests. Plus the American Petroleum Institute has been working overtime to thwart any and all climate legislation, while the Edison Electric Institute (which represents utilities) has decided to help craft a bill. So the House cap-and-trade program ended up being designed in a way that gave more leeway to coal-fired power plants. And, since there's still an overall cap on emissions, someone else has to pick up the slack—namely, oil producers and refiners. See Geoffrey Styles for more detail.

And you could even make an argument that it makes more sense to crack down harder on coal, instead—coal emissions are a larger threat to the climate, and it could prove easier in the short term to revamp our electricity system than our transportation system. So the oil companies may have a point. But why is US-CAP getting blamed for this state of affairs? If the American Petroleum Institute (which BP and ConocoPhillips are both members of) had spent more time playing a constructive role in House talks and less time organizing nutty astroturf rallies, the final bill might've looked quite different. Though, granted, it's not clear that any climate bill will pass the Senate this year, so maybe API will end up benefiting from obstructionism, after all.

(Flickr photo credit: thamiter)