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Letter to the Editor: Oil Industry Representative Admits Man-Made Climate Change

“Climate change is man-made. There’s no question about that.”

— Tupper Hall, vice president, strategic communications, Western States Petroleum Association, March 6, 2014

This quote was from an event at UCSB on March 6 entitled, “Game Changer: Unconventional Gas & Oil and the Energy Landscape.”

The event was a panel discussion with the editor-in-chief of Science Magazine, the chief scientist at EDF, the founder of a venture capital firm focused on clean energy and a representative of the Western Petroleum Association, an organization dedicated to advancing the interests of the oil industry.

When asked about a 60-minutes clip that showed people near fracking sites lighting their water on fire, individuals in a town in Pennslyvania who lost their water supply due to pollution and other negative impacts, the Western Petroleum Industry representative said that those issues were due to faulty construction and human error.

The main arguments in favor of fracking centered around the fact that burning natural gas produces less carbon than burning coal and oil and so, provided you can capture fugitive methane emissions and the gas replaces other fossil fuels, fracking for natural gas is better for the climate.

However, it was pointed out that in California the fracking being done is for oil, not natural gas, and so that argument is irrelevant here. There is no potential climate “benefit” to fracking for oil, only climate downsides.

What was most surprising at the event was that despite on-going funding of climate change denial by the oil industry, the representative of the Western Petroleum Association admitted that climate change is happening and it is man made.

What’s more, in response to an audience question, “Is the Western Petroleum Association willing to state publicly and loudly that climate change is an urgent and existential challenge?” He said, “yes.”

The moderator, Emmy-winning CBS journalist Jeff Greenfield, asked why the Western Petroleum Association is funding climate change denial. The representative demurred, noting that the Association doesn’t fund things, their oil industry members do.

— Katie Davis
350 Santa Barbara

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