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BP Quits Three Fossil Trade Groups, Remains Member of American Petroleum Institute

Colossal fossil BP is dropping its membership in three U.S. industry organizations, but continuing its association with the American Petroleum Institute, the ubiquitous national lobby group that has pushed for a wide-ranging rollback of climate and environmental regulations under Donald Trump.

BP announced it is withdrawing from a major oil refining group, the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), as  well as the Western Energy Alliance (WEA), and the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the Washington Post reports, after reviewing its relationships with 30 trade bodies to find those that were “not aligned” with its newly-announced net-zero carbon target. The company said it was quitting the WEA over its policy on methane leaks from fossil production, the other two over carbon pricing, and had identified five other groups that were only “partially aligned” with its policy positions.

“If BP is to stand a chance of achieving our ambition, then we have to earn back people’s trust,” CEO Bernard Looney said in the company release Wednesday. “Our priority is to work to influence within trade associations, but we may publicly dissent or resign our membership if there is material misalignment on high-priority issues.”

Until now, “BP has worked closely with the trade groups it left today,” the Post notes. “It has had a position on the AFPM executive committee for the past three years. And as a member of the WSPA, it poured about US$13 million into the oil industry’s more than $31-million campaign in 2018 to defeat a state carbon tax, or ‘fee’, that was championed by Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D). BP said it supported carbon taxes but argued the one in Washington State was badly flawed.”

WSPA President Catherine Reheis-Boyd downplayed the significance of BP’s move. “While our partnership will look a little different, WSPA and our members will continue to work with BP and all stakeholders to engage in a civil public discourse around creating a sustainable energy future,” she said in a statement Tuesday night. “It’s hard work, and we don’t always agree, but it’s a mission worth serving.”

The refiners questioned the motives behind the announcement. “AFPM is and has been committed to supporting policies that address climate change,” said CEO Chet Thompson. “Because of that, it leads us to assume that this decision was made based on factors other than our actual positions on the issues.”

But BP still took heat for retaining its membership in the biggest U.S. fossil lobby group of all. “All of this strikes me as a cheap publicity stunt masquerading as news,” Stephen H. Brown of energy consultancy RBJ Strategies told the Post.

Shareholder resolution advocate Bruce Duguid, head of stewardship at Federated Hermes, said the announcement was welcome. “Supportive public policy is vital to achieving BP’s bold vision to become a net zero company by 2050 or sooner,” he said in a statement.