January 7, 2020 / 3:57 PM / 20 days ago

U.S. oil industry launches ad campaign touting emissions cuts

WASHINGTON, Jan 7 (Reuters) - The U.S. oil and gas industry on Tuesday unveiled a public relations campaign touting its role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions - part of an effort to defuse the rising political pressure on drillers over climate change.

The campaign, which includes a series of advertisements here that will be broadcast online and on television, comes as U.S. Democrats hoping to unseat President Donald Trump in November’s elections vow to rapidly shift the country away from planet-warming fossil fuels if elected. Several of the top candidates have promised here to ban new drilling on public lands to help zero out U.S. emissions.

“We know many candidates now are talking about this industry and we want to make sure the American people hear our story,” said Mike Sommers, the head of the American Petroleum Institute industry group which launched the campaign.

The API said the campaign was intended to highlight the “natural gas and oil industry’s leadership in reducing emissions to record low levels” and create “common ground in the energy debate in 2020 and beyond.”

It said the campaign’s cost in 2020 was “seven figure” but did not provide an exact figure.

U.S. greenhouse gas emissions here have been declining for about a decade, thanks mainly to the retirement of scores of old and inefficient coal-fired power plants that have been replaced by cleaner-burning natural gas facilities, along with energy from renewable sources like wind and solar.

But the future of U.S. emissions has been cast into doubt as the Trump administration seeks to revive the coal industry and boost domestic fossil fuels development by rolling back Obama-era climate protections and other environmental regulations.

The API’s ad campaign cast the industry as an ally of Democrats and environmentalists seeking to cut emissions.

“On issues that matter, like climate change, we are more alike than we think,” according to one of the ads.

“We want cleaner solutions and that means working with each other. So the innovators in America’s natural gas and oil companies have teamed up with the country’s brightest minds and reduced carbon emission levels to the lowest in a generation.”

The United States has become the world’s top oil and gas producer thanks to a technology-driven drilling boom that opened up tough-to-reach reserves. (Writing by Richard Valdmanis Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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