BP pulls out of regional oil trade organization over differences on carbon pricing, fuel standard

Source: Evan Bush & Hal Bernton, Seattle Times, Feb 26, 2020

Fossil fuel giant BP announced it was leaving the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), a powerful oil and gas lobbying group in statehouses, over the association’s position on carbon pricing and its opposition to a low-carbon fuel standard being considered now in Olympia.

The oil company said in a news release that its policies no longer aligned with WSPA and that the differences could not be reconciled.

Environmentalists hope BP’s departure will weaken the influence of WSPA in Washington state, where it has opposed the clean fuel standard and other climate policies. In 2018, BP spent nearly $13 million and was the top contributor to WSPA’s “No On 1631,” a campaign in opposition to a statewide carbon-pricing initiative. After record spending, the measure failed at the ballot box.

BP’s decision to leave the organization also pushes it further down a path toward advocating more aggressive climate change policies, rather than serving as a legislative roadblock as it has in the past.

“It certainly welcomes them at the table, and the devil, though, is in the details,” said Clifford Traisman, a lobbyist in Olympia for Washington Conservation Voters and the Washington Environmental Council, two major environmental lobbying groups. “We have to see their position on the various bills as they move through. But, it’s welcome news.“

WSPA President Catherine Reheis-Boyd said the organizations’ members will continue to work with BP and other stakeholders “in a civil public discourse around creating a sustainable energy future.” WSPA represents the oil and gas industry in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

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