Oil and gas industry touts spending to curb climate change

Oil and gas industry leaders today touted their investments in technologies to curb greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming.

According to a study commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute, the U.S.-based oil and natural gas industry spent $71 billion on greenhouse gas mitigating technologies from 2000 to 2010 — roughly matching that of other American companies that put $74 billion into the work. During that same period, the federal government invested $43 billion into techniques to curb emissions.

The report comes as oil companies seek to burnish their image and shed their label as producers of “dirty fossil fuels” — while convincing lawmakers to preserve some industry tax breaks the Obama administration wants to put on the chopping block.

Kyle Isakower, API’s vice president of regulatory and economic policy, said the report underscores how much oil and natural gas companies are doing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“We do feel it’s important that the public is aware of actions that the oil and gas industry is taking to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, with or without any regulation or legislation being considered by Congress or the administration,” Isakower said.

Major investments included improvements in efficiency, such as combined heat and power, and advanced vehicle technologies. The industry also spent money on biofuels as well as investments in wind and solar power.

In a conference call with reporters, Isakower stressed that those investments are paying off with real reductions in the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere.

According to the report, U.S.-based oil and gas industry sources reported direct emission reductions totaling 55.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent for 2010 compared to the previous year — tantamount to taking 11.2 million cars and light trucks off the road.

The analysis by T2 and Associates did not tally the investments by private individuals in equipment and technologies with a lower carbon footprint, such as more efficient appliances or hybrid vehicles. It was derived from data in public government databases and more than 500 company annual reports.