A Secret Recording Reveals Oil Executives’ Private Views on Climate Change

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Last summer, oil and gas-industry groups were lobbying to overturn federal rules on leaks of natural gas, a major contributor to climate change. Their message: The companies had emissions under control.In private, the lobbyists were saying something very different.At a discussion convened last year by the Independent Petroleum Association of America, a group that represents energy companies, participants worried that producers were intentionally flaring, or burning off, far too much natural gas, threatening the industry’s image, according to a recording of the meeting reviewed by The New York Times.“We’re just flaring a tremendous amount of gas,” said Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, at the June 2019 gathering, held in Colorado Springs. “This pesky natural gas,” he said. “The value of it is very minimal,” particularly to companies drilling mainly for oil. A well can produce both oil and natural gas, but oil commands far higher prices. Flaring it is an inexpensive way of getting rid of the gas. Yet the practice of burning it off, producing dramatic flares and attracting criticism, represented a “huge, huge threat” to the industry’s efforts to portray natural gas as a cleaner and more climate-friendly energy …

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