The American Petroleum Institute’s Greed-Driven Agenda Is Making Climate Change Worse


Oct. 27 2021, Published 11:20 a.m. ET

American Petroleum Institute
Source: Getty Images

When it comes to fossil fuels, there are few advocates more supportive than the American Petroleum Institute (API). The API is the largest trade association for the petroleum industry, representing over 600 corporations of varying sizes. Its mission is to increase support for a strong, viable U.S. oil and natural gas, and it accomplishes this goal by “influencing” public opinion.

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How far the API’s influence actually extends, however, is a matter of some dispute. Either way, its very existence is not doing any favors to those who are trying to combat climate change.

Fossil fuels belching smoke into the air
Source: Getty Images
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What does the American Petroleum Institute do?

Originally established in 1919, the API’s official position is that it speaks for the U.S. oil and gas industry.

The API states that its mission is to "promote safety across the industry" — however, over the past few decades, there have been numerous incidents, evidence, and studies, that this industry is far from safe. Burning fossil fuels causes immense emissions and pollution, it's a top source of global heating and the climate crisis, it has negative health impacts on people all around the world, and so much more.

The API clearly has no problem deceiving the public with assertions that fossil fuels are safe, because the API puts profit over the safety of people and the planet. Any trade organization representing this unethical industry cannot truly care about combating the climate crisis or becoming more eco-friendly, since it is directly causing the climate crisis.

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According to DeSmog, the API has spent over $98 million on lobbying activities since 1998 — basically, the group essentially pays politicians to promote bolstering the American oil and gas industry, rather than join the 21st century and promote renewable energy.

Offshore gas pipeline under construction
Source: Getty Images
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These companies are members of the API.

The API has many corporate members, including some of the world's largest major oil companies, like Halliburton Energy Services. It also represents many small independent companies from different industry sectors, including those that produce, refine, and supply members of the petroleum industry. Other members of the API include Allerion Oilfield Services Inc., Brigade Energy Services, and the Murphy Oil Corporation.

How does the API view climate change?

If you were to ask the API about its position on climate change, it would tell you that it is working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and find solutions for climate change, all while meeting the country's growing need for energy with "essential" oil and gas.

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However, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that 89 percent of of global CO2 emissions in 2018 came from fossil fuels and related industries. The reality is, it is nearly impossible to end the climate crisis without majorly dismantling the fossil fuel industry. If the folks at the API truly wanted to reduce GHG emissions and end the climate emergency, they would help foster the transition away from oil to renewables.

Oil spill in California
Source: Getty Images
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Who runs API?

The API is run by its current 15th CEO, Mike Sommers. According to the official API website, Sommers oversees all advocacy efforts and interests, including what the API describes as a “solutions-oriented position on climate change.” Sommers' resume includes roles in the U.S. House of Representatives, as Chief of Staff for Speaker of the House John Boehner, and on the National Economic Council as Special Assistant to President George W. Bush.

Mike Sommers will be testifying at the Climate Disinformation Hearing.

On Oct. 28, 2021, API CEO Mike Sommers will testify at a monumental climate disinformation hearing. Joining him will be U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Suzanne P. Clark, CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp Darren Woods, BP America Inc. CEO David Lawler, Chevron Group CEO Michael Wirth, and Shell Oil Co. President Gretchen Watkins.

According to E&E Daily, the purpose of the meeting is for U.S. Democratic lawmakers to finally hold these individuals and corporations accountable for the campaigns of misinformation they have disseminated to the public regarding the link between fossil fuel burning and climate change.

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