Investors commend Shell, ExxonMobil and BP for breaking ranks with EPA and industry trade groups to voice their support for federal methane regulations

Mar 15th 2019

Investor members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility are today commending Shell, ExxonMobil and BP for making public their commitments to support the need for strong regulation to control methane emissions.

The investors say public endorsements from industry leaders send a strong signal to the EPA that its proposals to roll back current methane regulations are seen by some companies as ultimately harmful, not only to the environment, but to the long-term sustainability and competitiveness of the natural gas industry.

According to the recent IPCC report, countries won't be able to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, considered by some scientists and policymakers to be the "safe" limit of climate change, without immediate and rapid reductions in a wide range of greenhouse gases, including methane.

While natural gas is often touted as a ‘transitional’ fuel, methane is a powerful climate forcer up to 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in the short term. In the face of ever more dire reports on the economic and public health tolls of global warming, investors view strong federal methane regulations as critical bulwarks to help stave off catastrophic climate change.

In their engagements with oil & gas producers, ICCR members have stressed that strong and fair methane regulations create a more stable environment by leveling the playing field among U.S. oil & gas companies. Further, as the U.S. is a net exporter of natural gas, and as an increasing number of countries adopt legislation and other policies to address climate change, the investors argue that sound methane regulation preserves the industry’s global competitiveness.

In a letter endorsed by 61 investor signatories representing US$1.9 trillion in assets under management sent to  30 oil & gas companies last December, the investors warned against the EPA’s proposed rollback of the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), a regulation the investors say is critical to the long-term viability of the oil & gas sector in the energy transition already underway. They called on the companies to publicly declare their support for continued EPA regulation of methane emissions and to oppose the elimination of direct regulation of methane emissions.

ICCR members say they are gratified to see industry leaders like Shell, ExxonMobil and BP responding positively and stepping out publicly to make their voices heard in this critical debate.

The proposed rollbacks were supported by the American Petroleum Institute (API) the major trade association for the oil & gas sector. The API issued comments encouraging the EPA to weaken current requirements, and suggested that the agency does not need to regulate methane emissions directly.

Many companies, including some that recognize the need to reduce methane emissions, have remained silent on the regulatory rollback, and in doing so tacitly support the API position, which is at odds with science and deepens the risks to industry’s license to operate,” said Christina Herman, Program Director for Climate Change at ICCR. “We are indeed gratified to see responsible oil & gas companies recognize the importance of addressing this significant problem and the importance of rigorous GHG management in the face of increasingly dangerous climate impacts.”

About the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)
Celebrating its 49th year, ICCR is the pioneer coalition of shareholder advocates who view the management of their investments as a catalyst for social change. Its 300 member organizations comprise faith communities, socially responsible asset managers, unions, pensions, NGOs and other socially responsible investors with combined assets of over $400 billion. ICCR members engage hundreds of corporations annually in an effort to foster greater corporate accountability.