We have expanded the list of climate policies we assess company engagement with to incorporate land-use related policy, referring to legislative or regulatory measures to enhance and protect ecosystems and land where carbon is being stored. Assessments under this category are currently underweighted in terms of their contribution to the overall company metrics. This weighting will be progressively increased over the next 6 months.
We adjusted the terminology used to describe the queries running down the left-hand side of our scoring matrix and added additional explanatory text to the info-boxes. This has no impact on the scores and methodology. It has been done following user feedback to improve clarity.
Climate Lobbying Overview: Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) is actively engaged on climate policy with strongly negative positions, particularly on state-level policy in California, Washington, and Oregon. The association does not seem to support the transition of the energy mix, emphasizing the importance of oil and gas to the economy and opposing measures to limit fossil fuel development.
Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: WSPA is broadly unsupportive of climate policy in its top-line messaging. On its website, accessed in November 2022, WSPA states a strong preference for market-based approaches over command-and-control ones, and maintains that climate policy should be technology and fuel neutral. In May 2022, WSPA opposed California Air Resources Boards (CARB)’s Climate Change Scoping Plan, suggesting that it would impose more bans and regulations, and arguing instead for a less stringent plan with flexible compliance options. WSPA has some, although limited, positive messaging on climate policy. President Catherine Reheis-Boyd stated support for the US rejoining the Paris Agreement in a January 2021 press release. The association also supports a price on carbon, as stated on Twitter in March 2021.
Engagement with Climate-Related Policies: WSPA appears highly opposed to specific climate policies, particularly in California, Oregon, and Washington state. In July 2022, the association submitted comments to the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission expressing its opposition to the increased carbon intensity reduction targets in the state’s 2022 expansion of its Clean Fuels Program. According to a March 2021 Seattle Times article, the association did not support Washington state’s clean fuels legislation, labelling the policy as costly and ineffective. In addition, while WSPA states support for market-based mechanisms such as carbon tax and cap and trade schemes on its website, it does so with the strong caveat that such policies take precedent over ‘command and control’ types of regulation. Despite top-line support for cap and trade, the group has engaged minimally with various emissions trading schemes in the states. It offered support for California’s cap-and-trade program in a 2020 press release, a position echoed by President Reheis-Boyd on Twitter in March 2021. In April 2021, a Seattle Times article stated that the organization remained neutral on changes to Washington’s cap-and-trade program that aimed to increase its effectiveness.
Additionally, in April 2021, WSPA opposed AB 1218 on California's Motor Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards, raised GHG emissions standards for new passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks. In September 2021, WSPA signed a joint letter to the US Senate expressing high-level support for the direct regulation of methane, but did not engage on the EPA’s actual 2021-22 methane regulation proposals.
Positioning on Energy Transition: WSPA does not appear to support the transition of the energy mix. The group has continually supported the long-term role of fossil fuels in the energy mix, stating on its website as of November 2022 that fossil fuels will continue to play a significant role in the energy mix in the future, without placing clear conditions on CCS. This position is misaligned with the IPCC guidance, which states that to limit warming of 1.5 °C, fossil fuels without CCS should make up no more than 3-7% of the energy mix by 2050. A significant portion of WSPA’s policy-specific engagement on the energy mix is in opposition to bans or limits on new fossil fuel infrastructure and exploration. For example, in an April 2022 hearing with the California Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water, WSPA opposed California’s proposal to terminate offshore oil and gas leasing. A May 2021 press release opposed California Governor Newsom’s proposal to ban fracking (hydraulic fracturing) by 2024 and to end all oil extraction in the state by 2045. In Washington state, WSPA opposed plans to ban new fossil fuel infrastructure in, according to the Guardian in July 2021.
WSPA is equally unsupportive of efforts to decarbonize the transport sector. In a July 2022 press release, CEO Catherine Reheis-Boyd appeared to use the costs associated with electric vehicles (EVs) as an argument against transitioning the energy mix. The association reiterated this position in October 2022, tweeting that an EV mandate would be unaffordable for Californians. The association has opposed several specific bills on clean transport in California: in an April 2021 California senate hearing, it opposed AB 1218 which set a target for 100% of new passenger and light-duty vehicle sales to be zero-emission vehicles from 2035, and in its comments on California’s Revised Draft 2020 Mobile Source Strategy in May 2021, it supported a technology-neutral approach to transition the transport sector, highlighting issues of grid reliability, readiness of infrastructure and costs compared to alternative fuels.