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The Oil and Gas Climate Initiative,Monday Sept. 24. Photo: Amy Harder/Axios

NEW YORK — CEOs of the world’s biggest oil and natural gas companies are pledging to cut their emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, by one-fifth despite staying silent on the Trump administration’s regulatory rollback on the matter.

Why it matters: The announcement made Monday by the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, a group of top oil companies that represent nearly a third of the world’s oil and gas production, is a significant move given methane's impact in warming the planet is far greater in a shorter time span than carbon dioxide.

The big picture: Cutting methane emissions is one focus of the group, which now includes ExxonMobil, Occidental Petroleum and Chevron. The other pillars include carbon capture technology and cutting emissions in the transportation sector.

Yes, but: In interviews with Axios and during a public event in New York on Monday, several oil executives declined to comment one way or another about the Trump administration’s rollback of two parallel regulations — one at the Environmental Protection Agency and another at the Interior Department. At Monday's public event, Ken Alex, a senior advisor to California Gov. Jerry Brown, asked the CEOs if they would state their opposition to Trump's moves to scuttle the regulations? They opted not to do so.

“We’re not going to go out and criticize any government around their role. That’s not productive.”
— Bob Dudley, BP CEO, in an Axios interview
“We are not in politics. We are in business. I need to do the right things for business ... I’m not here to advocate for or against an administration or a particular political development.”
— Ben van Beurden, Shell CEO, in an Axios interview

Between the lines: Corporate CEOs are notoriously cautious with political moves, and this case is no exception. But rhetoric aside, the disconnect between the Trump administration and the world’s biggest oil companies is growing on climate change.

  • “The commitment to reduce methane emissions to these low levels and to measure it and record it is a big step forward and I think it proves that OGCI is not just talk but action,” said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund.
  • Krupp, whose centrist environmental group works with oil companies to cut emissions, added though that he thinks regulations are needed to compel other companies toward similar action because the group’s companies “themselves only represent a minority of emissions so we need the other companies.”

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”