Executives with Shell Oil Company have been secretly meeting with environmental groups for more than two years to establish support for a nationwide tax on carbon emissions.
Since the beginning of 2016, Shell, an international oil and gas giant based in the Netherlands, has met with officials from the Niskanen Center, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), World Resources Institute and the Nature Conservancy regarding the implementation of a U.S. carbon tax and to discuss a host of other climate change issues, according to a report from E&E News.
The talks began during the 2016 presidential election, with the understanding that a Hillary Clinton administration would likely mean more regulation of the fossil fuel industry. However, the communication continued after President Donald Trump’s upset victory. What began as face-to-face meetings in Shell’s Washington, D.C., offices and at restaurants in the first two years shifted to communication over phone calls and emails. (RELATED: Foreign-Based Oil Companies Praise GOP Lawmaker’s Carbon Tax Bill)
Communication with Shell continues on a weekly basis, but participation among the different environmental groups varies.
“We value our partnerships with the private sector, including companies like Shell, and believe that these partnerships are important for achieving durable policy solutions,” Jason Albritton, a senior adviser for the Nature Conservancy, stated to E&E News. Also confirming the meetings was Environmental Defense Fund spokeswoman Victoria Mills, who said EDF regularly meets with companies to build support for climate change legislation in Congress.
The concept of a carbon tax — a charge levied upon companies according to the amount of CO2 they emit into the atmosphere — has been pushed by environmentalists as an alternative to strict government regulations. Shell has long been supportive of the idea.
While passage of carbon pricing legislation is highly unlikely in the GOP-controlled Congress, some Republicans have embraced it. Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who represents a competitive Miami district, introduced a bill in July that calls for a tax on CO2 emissions. However, Curbelo has admitted himself that the legislation would likely go nowhere, and he has since been subjected to attack ads for introducing it.
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