Oil

OIL

Like coal and gas, oil is a fossil fuel.  Fossil fuels, which we burn to power transportation, heating & cooling, and electricity, are non-renewable sources of energy formed in the earth over the past millions of years, typically from the remains of marine microorganisms and plants. 

WHERE IS OIL FOUND?

Today, oil is found in vast underground reservoirs where ancient seas were once located. Those reservoirs can be found beneath land or the ocean floor. Their crude oil is extracted with giant drilling machines.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN IT IS BURNED?

When burned for gasoline and other forms of energy, toxic gases and high amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) are released. Carbon dioxide  helps regulate Earth’s atmospheric temperature, but burning fossil fuels generates an excessive amount of carbon which adversely affects the natural balance.

WHAT EFFECT DO GREENHOUSE GASES HAVE?

This extraction, production, and consumption of oil release vast amounts of these greenhouse gases into the atmosphere trapping heat and contributing to the global rise in temperatures, resulting in disastrous consequences for our planet. 

WHAT ROLE HAS OIL PLAYED IN AMERICAN EVOLUTION?

Oil has played a pivotal role in driving economic growth and technological advancement over the past two hundred years. It is a source of energy propelling vehicles, heating buildings, and producing electricity. It is also a raw material making products such as plastics, polyurethane, solvents, and thousands of different items, including tires, refrigerators, life jackets, and anesthetics.

ARE THERE CONSEQUENCES?

Yes, our reliance on oil comes at a steep cost – a cost that we can no longer afford to ignore. From more frequent and severe weather events to rising sea levels and ecosystem disruption, the effects of climate change are undeniable.

IS THE U.S. AN EXPORTER OF OIL?

 Yes. U.S. crude oil production leads global oil production for a sixth straight year, with a record breaking average production of 12.9 million barrels per day (bpd), the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in a release on 3/11/2024.

WILL OIL RUN OUT?

Yes.  Already in 2019, a report from Stanford University predicted that oil reserves would run out by 2052.

IS THERE A SOLUTION?

Renewable energy sources, electric transportation, and sustainable practices offer us a path forward. 

CURRENT NEWS

Oil Companies Expand Offshore Drilling, Pointing to Energy Needs

By Ivan Penn 05/03/24
About 80 miles southeast of Louisiana’s coast, 100,000 metric tons of steel floats in the Gulf of Mexico, an emblem of the hopes of oil and gas companies. This hulk of metal, a deepwater platform…
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Interior Department Takes Action to Protect Taxpayers from Offshore Oil and Gas Decommissioning Costs

04/15/24
The Department of the Interior today announced a final rule from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to protect taxpayers from covering costs that should be borne by the oil and gas industry when…
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Biden hikes cost of drilling on federal lands as Trump courts oil donors

By Maxine Joselow and Josh Dawsey 04/12/24
President Biden and Donald Trump this week outlined clashing visions for the future of fossil fuel production across the country, underscoring how the nation’s energy policies hinge on the outcome of the 2024 election.
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Big Oil is quietly paying state legal officials to kill climate litigation

By Arielle Samuelson and Emily Atkin 04/11/24
At the Society of Environmental Journalists conference this year, we heard about a promising legal case that experts believe actually has a real shot at holding the fossil fuel industry accountable for climate change.
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An Oil Company Is Trespassing on Tribal Land in Wisconsin, Justice Dept. Says

By Rebecca Halleck and Dionne Searcey 04/10/24
The Department of Justice has weighed in on a court battle over an oil and gas pipeline in Wisconsin, saying that a Canadian oil company has been willfully trespassing on tribal lands in the state…
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The oil industry’s trash could become desert riches as wastewater recycling gains traction

By Amanda Drane 04/05/24
Freshwater resources in West Texas are dwindling at the same time the oil country is struggling to dispose of dirty, unwanted oil field wastewater that is spewing from leaky wells and triggering earthquakes. It’s a…
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Crews working to clean up oil spill at Horsepen Bayou in South Houston

By Ariel Worthy 03/29/24
Crews are working to clean an oil spill at Horsepen Bayou. An oil spill into a bayou next to a park near Clear Lake is still getting cleaned up. ExxonMobil, owner of Denbury Resources’ Webster…
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Companies Are Poised to Inject Millions of Tons of Carbon Underground. Will It Stay Put?

By Nicholas Kusnetz 03/20/24
After more than a century of pulling carbon from underground, a rush is underway to pump it back down. Companies have applied for scores of permits across the country to inject carbon dioxide deep into…
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US leads global oil production for sixth straight year- EIA

By Daksh Grover 03/11/24
U.S. crude oil production lead global oil production for a sixth straight year, with a record breaking average production of 12.9 million barrels per day (bpd), the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in a release…
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The U.S. oil surge is set to take a breather this year

By Ben Geman 02/23/24
Why it matters: The U.S. is by far the world's largest producer and a major exporter, which influences global market balances and prices.
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The Coast Guard takes the lead on spill in western Alaska that is larger than first thought

02/22/24
The U.S. Coast Guard has taken over the response to a diesel fuel spill from a storage tank in a western Alaska village that has crept toward a river. The spill at a fuel tank…
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Enbridge Wants Line 5 Shutdown Order Overturned on Tribal Land in Northern Wisconsin

By Phil McKenna and Noel Lyn Smith 02/20/24
Eleven years after easements for a pipeline buried beneath the Bad River reservation in northern Wisconsin expired, five years after the tribe first sounded alarms over the risk of an imminent oil spill into their…
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KEY RESOURCES

Petroleum, or crude oil, is a fossil fuel and nonrenewable source of energy.

11/21/23
Petroleum, also called crude oil, is a fossil fuel. Like coal and natural gas, petroleum was formed from the remains of ancient marine organisms, such as plants, algae, and bacteria. Over millions of years of…

STEO Current/Previous Forecast Comparisons: U.S. Energy Production and Consumption Summary

10/12/22
Current Forecast: October 12, 2022; Previous Forecast: September 7, 2022

NGOs Release the First “Global Oil & Gas Exit List” at Glasgow COP

04/11/21
At the UN Climate Summit today, Urgewald and 20 NGO partners launched the “Global Oil & Gas Exit List” (GOGEL), an extensive public database that covers 887 oil and gas companies, which account for almost…

Oil

03/31/20
Oil is a fossil fuel and liquid hydrocarbon used mainly for the production of transportation fuels and petroleum-based products.

Fossil Fuels: The Dirty Facts

03/31/20
Mining, drilling, and burning dirty energy are harming the environment and our health. Here’s everything you need to know about fossil fuels, and why we need to embrace a clean energy future.

Fuel Oil

03/31/20
Fuel oil is a fraction obtained from petroleum distillation, either as a distillate or a residue. Broadly speaking, fuel oil is any liquid petroleum product that is burned in a furnace or boiler for the…

Fossil Fuel Facts

03/31/20
Coal is an abundant fossil resource that consists mostly of carbon. Energy content (Btu/pound) ranges from 5,000 to 15,000 depending on the type of coal. Coal reserves are located all over the world. Electric utilities…

Fossil Fuels

03/31/20
Fossil fuels, including coal, oil and natural gas, are currently the world's primary energy source. Formed from organic material over the course of millions of years, fossil fuels have fueled U.S. and global economic development…

Oil, Power, and War: A Dark History (2018)

12/26/19
In this sweeping, unabashed history of oil, Matthieu Auzanneau takes a fresh, thought-provoking look at the way oil interests have commandeered politics and economies, changed cultures, disrupted power balances across the globe, and spawned wars.…

MORE NEWS

How the US government began its decade-long campaign against the anti-pipeline movement

By Adam Federman   02/14/24  
On the morning of March 5, 2012, Debra White Plume received an urgent phone call. A convoy of large trucks transporting pipeline servicing equipment was attempting to cross the Pine Ridge Reservation near the town…
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Fortune 500 oil giant to pay $4 million for air pollution at New Mexico and Texas facilities

By Minnah Arshad   02/13/24  
A Fortune 500 oil and natural gas company will pay $4 million in civil penalties for unlawful air pollution in New Mexico and Texas, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.
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Pipeline giant plans major Southeast gas project

By Zach Bright and Carlos Anchondo   02/02/24  
Pipeline heavyweight Williams Cos. is expected to file initial paperwork soon with federal energy regulators on a large pipeline expansion project in the Southeast.
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Will storing CO2 in old oil fields slow global warming? First California plan nears approval

By Tony Briscoe   01/14/24  
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has signed off on a California oil company’s plans to permanently store carbon emissions deep underground to combat global warming — the first proposal of its kind to be tentatively…
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Big Oil Is Weaponizing The First Amendment

By Emily Sanders   01/10/24  
For years, the fossil fuel industry has maintained that the First Amendment protects its right to mislead the public about the climate crisis, but that criticism and protest of its operations violates the law. Now,…
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Oil spill tops 1 million gallons, threatens Gulf of Mexico wildlife

By Darryl Fears   11/21/23  
Skimming vessels are working to contain and recover oil from a spill in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast, which the U.S. Coast Guard on Tuesday estimated to be at least 1.1 million…
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Biden Ordered to Sell Gulf Of Mexico Oil Leases Next Month

By Jennifer A Dlouhy   11/15/23  
A federal appeals court ordered the Biden administration to sell drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico within 37 days, a defeat for environmentalists who argued oil leasing and development in the region imperil a…
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Gulf oil lease sale postponed by court amid litigation over endangered whale protections

By Kevin MCGill   10/27/23  
A sale of federal Gulf of Mexico oil and gas leases that had been scheduled for Nov. 8 was delayed Thursday by a federal appeals court, pending court arguments that focus on protections for an…
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The Safer Oil Tanker: Diplomacy Averts Disaster

By Paige Peterson   10/18/23  
Last month, while the United Nations General Assembly was meeting in New York City, I attended some programming on the summit’s sidelines together with my colleagues from the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations. Among them…
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Doubters Beware: U.S. Oil Production Is Setting New Records

By Robert Rapier   10/08/23  
One of my 2023 energy sector predictions was that U.S. oil production would set a new all-time high this year. After record-setting production thus far this year, it would take a collapse along the lines…
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Biden approves new offshore oil leases, faces hits by both sides

By Timothy Puko   09/29/23  
The Biden administration said Friday it will approve just three offshore oil and gas lease sales through 2029 — the smallest offshore oil drilling plan in history and one designed to narrowly comply with limits…
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Biden Approved a Big Oil Project. Now, He’s Cracking Down on Drilling.

By Lisa Friedman   09/07/23  
President Biden’s decision on Wednesday to block drilling on millions of acres of Alaskan tundra was the latest in a series of aggressive actions recently taken by the administration to curtail fossil fuel extraction on…
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Biden to block oil drilling in ‘irreplaceable’ Alaskan wildlands

By Timothy Puko   09/06/23  
President Biden moved Wednesday to protect more than 10 million acres of Alaska’s North Slope from development, barring oil drilling across giant swaths and canceling leases in the iconic Arctic National Wildlife Refuge issued under…
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Oil company plans to have machines suck carbon from the sky — as it still makes oil

By Camila Domonoske   09/05/23  
The American oil company Occidental Petroleum is building machines to suck carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and inject it underground. Is the technology meant to save the planet or the oil industry?
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Company gets $2.6 million to relinquish oil lease on Montana land that’s sacred to Native Americans

By Matthew Brown   09/01/23  
A Louisiana company will receive $2.6 million to relinquish the last remaining oil and gas lease on U.S. forest land near Montana’s Glacier National Park that’s sacred to Native Americans, government officials and attorneys involved…
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Zombie Wells, Part 1: Texas oil wells are leaking toxic waste, and no one wants to pay to clean it

By Amanda Drane   07/17/23  
Mesquite waved in the breeze at Antina Ranch as well control specialist Hawk Dunlap dipped a stick into a hole in the ground and smelled it. “See?” he asked, extending the stick.
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Army Corps limits scope of Line 5 tunnel environmental review

By Jon King   07/12/23  
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has announced they will not be considering the entirety of the controversial Line 5 oil pipeline in the scope of their environmental review process for a proposed tunnel…
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Oil Demand Will Peak By Decade End As Countries Move Away From Fossil Fuels, IEA Says

By Siladitya Ray   06/14/23  
TOPLINE Global demand for oil is set to hit a peak by the end of this decade, the International Energy Agency said Wednesday, as volatile energy prices accelerate a shift to clean alternatives following the…
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Pennsylvania Expects $400 Million in Infrastructure Funds to Begin Plugging Thousands of Abandoned Oil Wells

By Stacey Burling   06/11/23  
Nearly a year ago, residents of New Freeport, Pennsylvania, a little town about 70 miles south of Pittsburgh, learned about one of the many dangers of abandoned oil and gas wells the hard way.
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Supreme Court won’t review ruling barring offshore fracking in California

By Zack Budryk   06/05/23  
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined a request by the oil industry to review a lower court ruling barring fracking off California’s shore. In 2014, the Environmental Defense Center (EDC) sued to halt offshore…
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In pristine Alaska, an oil giant prepares to drill for decades

By Lisa Friedman and Clifford Krauss   04/06/23  
Scientists say nations must stop new oil and gas projects to avoid climate catastrophe. But after the Biden administration greenlit the $8 billion Willow project, ConocoPhillips is racing ahead....
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Despite Rules, New Mexico Oil and Gas Producers Keep Polluting

By Jerry Redfern   03/17/23  
Driving around the Permian Basin in early February, it was impossible to miss. New Mexico has increased its oil production tenfold since 2010 and was the first major oil-producing state to surpass its pre-pandemic output…
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Toxic air, explosions: Inside the bitter battle between Texas residents and Exxon

By Anna Phillips   03/16/23  
When Shirley Williams chose the brick ranch house in a quiet subdivision east of Houston 25 years ago, she picked it for the lush, peaceful backyard. She pictured her husband, Arthur, puttering around the garden,…
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Biden administration approves huge Alaska oil project

By Lisa Friedman   03/13/23  
The administration also announced new limits on Arctic drilling in an apparent effort to temper criticism over the $8 billion Willow oil project, which has faced sharp opposition.
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Biden will approve Alaska oil project, alongside Arctic protections

By Maxine Joselow and Timothy Puko   03/12/23  
The administration will approve three pads for the Willow drilling project, according to people familiar with the matter. The move comes after announcing a new ban on U.S. oil and gas leasing in the Arctic…
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Biden administration expected to move ahead on major oil project

By Lisa Friedman   03/10/23  
The decision would allow an enormous $8 billion drilling project in the largest expanse of pristine wilderness in the United States....
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Former House Oversight chairwoman breaks silence on Big Oil probe

By Maxine Joselow   03/08/23  
Good morning and welcome to The Climate 202! Happy International Women’s Day and happy hump day. Today we’re reading about why airlines want to charge you for flying on french-fry oil. 🍟
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The Willow Project Would Be a Public Health Crisis for Alaska

By Yessenia Funes   03/06/23  
Siqiniq Maupin, an Iñupiaq person born in Alaska’s North Slope city of Utqiagvik but raised in Fairbanks, has known too many people whose lives were cut short by cancer or suicide. Across the state, Alaska…
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It would take less than 3% of Big Oil’s profits to clean up methane emissions

By Emily Pontecorvo   02/22/23  
Oil companies and governments have pledged to slash methane emissions in recent years, but so far have little to show for it. Emissions of this potent greenhouse gas by the fossil fuel industry continued to…
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Big Oil is making billions, but don’t expect lower gas prices

By Kyra Buckley   02/03/23  
Exxon Mobil: $55.7 billion. Shell: $42.3 billion. Chevron: $35.5 billion. ConocoPhillips: $18.7 billion. As expected, oil companies are reporting blockbuster profits for 2022. But directing those profits in a way that shields consumers from chaotic…
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Oil companies and the windfalls of war

By Joel Stronberg   02/03/23  
Putin’s war on Ukraine is approaching its one-year anniversary, with little to suggest it will be stopping any time soon. Looking at the…...
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Melting Alaska wants to drill more oil

By Bill McKibben   02/01/23  
If you wanted an example of the reason we’re still losing the fight to slow the earth’s heating, the proposed Willow oil project in Alaska should suffice. This should be the no-brainer of all time.…
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Oil refineries release lots of water pollution near communities of color, data show

By Rebecca Hersher   01/26/23  
Oil refineries release billions of pounds of pollution annually into waterways, and that pollution disproportionately affects people of color, according to a new analysis of Environmental Protection Agency regulatory data.
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Biden to Sell More Oil From Strategic Reserve to Keep Gas Prices in Check

By Timothy Puko   10/18/22  
The Biden administration is planning to sell more oil from the country’s strategic reserves—and is considering authorizing new sales this winter—as it tries to head off the potential for more market shocks and high prices,…
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Big oil companies are spending millions to appear ‘green.’ Their investments tell a different story, report shows

By Lauren Kent   09/08/22  
Big oil companies are spending millions to portray themselves as taking action on climate change, but their investments and lobbying activities don’t live up to their planet-friendly claims, according to a new report.
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Big Oil, flush with cash, is failing on climate pledges

By Allison Morrow   05/25/22  
In the peak of 2020 lockdowns, giant oil companies had a wake-up call. Demand had cratered, sapping profits, and it wasn't clear when it would end. That gave environmentally minded investors an in. The pitch:…
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How the oil and gas industry is trying to hold US public schools hostage

By Leanna First-Arai   05/04/22  
The oil and gas industry wants to play a word-and-picture association game with you. Think of four images: a brightly colored backpack stuffed with pencils, a smiling teacher with a tablet tucked under her arm,…
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Interior Department to resume oil and gas leasing, charge higher fees

By Anna Phillips   04/15/22  
As pressure increases on the Biden administration to lower the price of fuel, the Interior Department announced on Friday plans to hold its first onshore oil and gas lease sales since President Biden took office.
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New York shows the challenges of phasing out fossil fuels

By Maxine Joselow   04/12/22  
In December, when the New York City Council voted to ban natural gas use in new buildings, environmentalists in the Big Apple barely stopped to celebrate.
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Why aren’t U.S. oil companies increasing production faster?

03/10/22  
Gas prices have of $4.318 per gallon as of Thursday morning (not ), with the prospect of going even higher.
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AP Source: Biden to ban Russian oil imports over Ukraine war

By Zeke Miller, Mike Balsamo, and Josh Boak   03/09/22  
President Joe Biden has decided to ban Russian oil imports, toughening the toll on Russia’s economy in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine, according to a person familiar with the matter.
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Swap Russian gas for renewables, EU tells member states

By Joe Lo   03/08/22  
The EU is urging its 27 member states to use taxes on energy firms and polluters to fund a transition from Russian gas to clean energy sources for heating, cooking and electricity.
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The Truth About Russia’s War: Our Addiction To Oil Gives Putin Power

By Mark Brownstein   03/03/22  
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is alarming and wrong — recognized by governments across the political spectrum as a dangerous assault on peace and stability.
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Big Oil is exiting Russia. What does that mean for the climate?

By Emily Pontecorvo   03/03/22  
Major international oil companies began dumping their investments in Russian oil and gas this week following the country’s invasion into Ukraine. But experts say it’s unlikely these decisions will mean anything good for the transition…
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Bipartisan bill banning Russian oil sets up clash with White House

By Josh Siegel   03/03/22  
The White House said it does not “have a strategic interest in reducing the global supply of energy, and that would raise prices at the gas pump for the American people.”
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Oil majors ‘not walking the talk’ on climate action, study confirms

By Josh Gabbatiss   02/16/22  
Four of the world’s largest oil-and-gas companies are failing to back their words and pledges on climate change with genuine action and investment, a new study says.
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Big Oil board members decline to testify in U.S. House climate panel

By Valerie Volcovici   02/03/22  
Board members of four major oil companies declined to appear at a U.S. House oversight panel hearing scheduled for Feb. 8 to answer questions about their companies' climate change plans, the committee said on Thursday.
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Federal court revokes oil and gas leases, citing climate change

By Lisa Friedman   01/27/22  
A judge ruled that the Interior Department must consider the climate impacts of oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico before awarding leases.
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ConocoPhillips’ Plan for Extracting Half-a-Billion Barrels of Crude in Alaska’s Fragile Arctic

By Nicholas Kusnetz   01/23/22  
The Biden administration is facing a major test for its climate agenda in the Alaskan Arctic, where an oil company is proposing a 30-year development that would pump more than half-a-billion barrels of petroleum from…
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Shell’s Massive Carbon Capture Plant Is Emitting More Than It’s Capturing

By Anya Zoledziowski   01/21/22  
A first-of-its-kind “green” Shell facility in Alberta is emitting more greenhouse gases than it’s capturing, throwing into question whether taxpayers should be funding it, a new report has found. Shell’s Quest carbon capture and storage…
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