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NEWS: Oil, Gas, and Secrets Leaked

Updated: Dec 31, 2020

Artwork by Vicky Wang, staff artist

In the summer of 2019, oil and gas industry groups insisted on the rollback of federal restrictions on natural gas leaks, arguing that their industry was achieving its goal of becoming more environment-friendly. The Independent Petroleum Association of America, a lobbying group for oil and gas companies, held a discussion where companies expressed concern over maintaining this green image. In particular, the partakers of the discussion were troubled about the harm to their image coming from an excessive release of natural gas.  

Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, merely described the gas release as “We’re just flaring a tremendous amount of gas. This pesky natural gas, the value of it is very minimal.” This is the case especially for companies aiming to drill for oil. A company’s well can yield both oil and natural gas but oil is in higher demand so “flaring”, or burning, is a cheaper way to get rid of the gas. The oil and gas industry publicly claimed they had their gas emissions under control. 

Recently, a 1 hour 22 minute recording of undisclosed discussion during the meeting was leaked, including conversations ranging from topics about the threat of solar and wind energy and the federal leasing of oil and gas rights. The recording also exposed the lobbyists discussing a lack of control over climate-warming emissions - the complete opposite of their public claims. 

Despite this truth, companies and the Trump administration are still pushing to overturn federal rules, arguing that industry players already have an incentive to monitor the gas emissions - they want that gas. James D. Elliott, a lawyer for the oil and gas companies coalition, wrote to the Environmental Protection Agency: “The oil and natural gas industry has a pure economic incentive to prevent every molecule of ‘pollutant’ from escaping to the atmosphere.” Yet, this is far different from Mr. Ness’s statement that regarded the gas as of minimal value and little use. 

Clearly, there is a blur between the truth and the official statements of companies responsible for the ever-increasing levels of methane. But one thing is for certain - we are running out of time to properly regulate and hold oil and gas companies liable for their consequential role in accelerating climate change.


Rebecca Cho is a columnist and critic for The Incandescent Review and a high school writer from Jericho, New York. Follow her Instagram @becca_cho1020. 

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