Energy politics: Why oil giant BP wants Washington lawmakers to put a price on carbon pollution

Source: Seattle Times, Hal Bernton and Evan Bush, Jan 19 2020

Declaring that the “findings of climate scientists are real, and the world is on an unsustainable path,” energy giant BP is launching a public relations campaign this weekend to promote putting a price on carbon pollution in Washington state.

This latest chapter in BP’s political activism comes less than two years after the company spent nearly $13 million to defeat Washington Initiative 1631, a carbon-pricing ballot measure the company criticized because it included oil refiners, but exempted many other polluters.

BP sent a statement Tuesday to legislators calling for passage of Senate Bill 5981, which would place an overall cap on state carbon emissions.  This would be lowered over time and — through the sale of pollution allowances — raise funds to invest in energy efficiency, low-income assistance and other projects.

BP’s two-week advertising campaign, which kicks off Sunday, includes buys in print, radio and social media. The company would not disclose how much money was being spent.

“Together we can help Washington meet its carbon reduction goals,” declares an initial print advertisement touting the merits of SB 5981.

BP’s decision to publicly campaign this year for carbon pricing represents a significant change in the corporation’s strategy in Washington, which has emerged — through legislative efforts and two ballot initiatives — as a kind of political testing ground for U.S. climate policy.

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