Sheila McNulty Conoco and BP quit USCAP, underlining Congress’ failure to act

ConocoPhillips, the US’ third biggest oil company, has become the latest major company to drop out of USCAP, the US Climate Action Partnership, a ceo-led organization aimed at advancing comprehensive climate and energy legislation. BP, the UK oil major, and Caterpillar, the equipment manufacturer, also have quit the organisation.

It is a significant blow for the campaign to bring in carbon dioxide emissions controls in the US.

Jim Mulva, chief executive of Conoco, explained why his company was giving up on the grouping:

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. We believe greater attention and resources need to be dedicated to reversing these missed opporunities, and our actions today are part of that effort. Addressing these issues will save thousands of American jobs, as well as create new ones.

That is all too true. And Conoco, as one of the US’ largest producers of natural gas and refiners of transportation fuels, does have a lot at stake. Yet the company does not say how it is now going to focus on its newly stated objectives.

If it truly does still maintain a strong commitment to a federal legislative solution for mandatory reduction of greehouse gas emissions and means it when it says Conoco encourages Congress and the Administration to work together to that end, how is the company going to prove its support? By walking away from USCAP, Conoco and the other companies are signaling they are giving up.

BP’s response was that it thought it could be more effective if it showed up to further conversations on US climate and energy legislation as itself, not part of the broader USCAP group.

Hmm. Anyone remember the old saying: united we stand, divided we fall? If big name companies like these stop pressuring Congress and the Administration to act, the likely result will be that nothing gets done. Could that be what they are really hoping for?