Three major U.S. companies said Tuesday they were leaving a coalition pushing for action on climate change, dealing a potential fresh blow to landmark legislation to cut carbon emissions. The companies—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 firms said they would not renew membership in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), a coalition of business leaders whom President Barack Obama’s Democratic party often cites to bulwark its case on climate change.
ConocoPhillips and BP America, a unit of British giant BP, said the bill under consideration did not attach enough importance to natural gas—which they promote as a way to curb carbon emissions blamed for global warming. 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,” said Jim Mulva, ConocoPhilips chair and CEO. “We believe greater attention and resources need to be dedicated to reversing these missed opportunities, and our actions today are part of that effort,” he said in a statement.
Ronnie Chappell, a spokesman for BP America, said that demand for natural gas stood to stay flat or decline in the next 10 to 15 years due to concessions to the coal industry aimed at winning over lawmakers’ support. “We think we can address our concerns around these problem areas better as BP than as a member of USCAP,” Chappell said. The House of Representatives in June narrowly approved the first-ever U.S. plan to force cuts in carbon emissions—a leading priority for the Obama administration. But the Senate has yet to follow suit and the political climate is uncertain, with the Democrats last month losing a seat to a critic of the legislation.
In a statement, USCAP said its membership periodically changed and that it expected more companies to join. Companies that remain in USCAP include oil giant Shell, conglomerates General Electric and Honeywell, and Detroit’s Big Three automakers—Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors.