Oil Companies Using Ukraine War to Resist Climate Action

May 25, 2022

Vladimir Putin and former Exxon CEO/Sec. State under Trump, Rex Tillerson

Because of course they are.

Raw Story:

US oil and gas firms took advantage of energy worries over the Ukraine war to push their fossil fuel products and resist climate change regulatory measures, an analysis showed on Wednesday.

The London-based think tank InfluenceMap analyzed advertisements and declarations by the companies in the weeks before and after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

It said the companies spread the misleading message that US climate change policies were to blame for rising energy prices and that more US-produced oil and gas was the solution.

As Western countries that import Russian hydrocarbons looked for alternatives in order to cut ties with Russia, InfluenceMap detected “an active effort from the US oil and gas industry to capitalize on the war in Ukraine”.

They pushed “long-standing policy asks relating to the continued expansion of oil and gas,” despite the widely-documented role such operations play in driving deadly global climate change, InfluenceMap said.

The group identified one of the key players in the messaging effort as the American Petroleum Institute, a lobbying organization that has numerous major fossil fuel companies among its members.

InfluenceMap said it detected a surge in the number of ads about US-based energy and energy independence placed via one of the API’s Facebook pages in the weeks before and after the Russian invasion.

One series of ads received nearly 20 million views on the social platform.

“The sector has quickly mobilized around the war in Ukraine and high gas prices to promote the need for more ‘American-made energy’, often relying on potentially misleading or questionable claims,” InfluenceMap Program Manager Faye Holder said in the report.

It also analyzed public statements by oil and gas executives, finding that several of them publicly blamed climate change policies or promoted US-produced energy as part of the solution to the energy crisis.

The report documented cases where it said the sector had succeeded in securing some of its demands since the invasion, such as a commitment by authorities to speed up approvals for new gas projects.

Many posts by users on social media have blamed a surge in gasoline and crude oil prices on US President Joe Biden’s decisions to limit drilling and to halt the Keystone XL pipeline project as part of his low-carbon energy transition plan.

Biden’s March 8, 2022 announcement of a ban on Russian oil imports did lead to a jump in prices.

But analysts told AFP in March that swings in energy prices in 2022 were due to a variety of factors, including a rebound in economic activity following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Agence France Presse Fact Check:

Social media posts claim a surge in gasoline and crude oil prices is being caused by US President Joe Biden’s decisions to limit drilling and to halt the Keystone XL pipeline project. This is misleading; sharp swings in energy prices in 2022 come from a variety of factors, including a rebound in economic activity following low demand and little investment during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the OPEC cartel’s reluctance to raise output.

Media Matters:

The recent nearly 30% fall in the price of oil futures, which had previously skyrocketed due to the initial disruptions and uncertainties from Russia’s war against Ukraine and the onset of American-led sanctions, seems to disprove the chorus of Fox News antagonists who during the past two weeks had blamed President Joe Biden and progressive policies for rising prices.

Global oil trading reached a high of nearly $140 a barrel at the beginning of last week. But by the end of the week, prices in U.S. markets had fallen to $112 a barrel. Prices continued to fall on Monday and Tuesday of this week, providing some hopeful signs that gas prices could soon follow as those changes make their way through the entire supply chain.

Perhaps spooked by the pace of market fluctuations, some analysts initially predicted that oil prices were headed to $150 per barrel. But the same economic volatility that drives prices up can also drive prices back down, once the initial fears of supply disruption were worked out, which seems to be the case today.

When oil and gasoline prices started picking up steam two weeks ago, Fox News fanned its viewers’ fears that things were going to keep on getting worse, and falsely blamed President Biden’s policies for making energy more expensive. With prices falling quickly back to earth in the past few days, will the network issue a corrective for their fearmongering?

On the March 2 edition of Fox Business’ Mornings with Maria Bartiromo, professional climate change denier and frequent Fox guest Daniel Turner, of the pro-industry group Power The Future, claimed that oil prices could “easily” reach $150 a barrel — even without putting sanctions on Russian oil.

“And if we do ever put sanctions on Russian oil, which is doubtful, but if they actually did, I think $200 a barrel of oil is not impossible, and that will be devastating to our economy, to families,” Turner claimed.

Bartiromo then repeated her guest’s claim later in the program, while she interviewed former President Donald Trump over the phone, who in turn said that prices could go “unlimited.”


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