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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

BP is dipping into its deep pocketbooks to help state-level climate proposals around the country.

Why it matters: Oil companies — European ones especially — have said in recent years they support climate policy, but there hasn't been much action behind the rhetoric. The fact that real lobbying efforts are underway suggests change is really afoot.

Driving the news: BP is lobbying in favor of implementing a new initiative cutting transportation emissions in the Northeast, urging Pennsylvania to join an existing interstate program in the region limiting electricity emissions, and pushing climate policy in Washington state, CEO Bernard Looney said in a recent “Axios on HBO” interview.

  • Other states where BP is actively supporting emissions-cutting proposals include Illinois, New York, Colorado and Oregon, according to a company official.
“We are doing it because even though our strategy is not predicated on policy change, our strategy is set up to benefit from such a policy change.”
— BP CEO Bernard Looney, "Axios on HBO" interview

How it works:

  • “I think they’re very interested in getting these carbon pricing programs over the finish line,” said one environmentalist who corresponds with the company and has noticed an increase in lobbying in Northeast states and elsewhere.
  • BP helped launch a new corporate coalition in late September to support the new Northeast transportation policy, called the Transportation and Climate Initiative.

But, but, but: As part of its new clean-energy strategy, BP said it would end its long-running corporate reputation campaign — which cost the company $100 million last year — and redirect it toward supporting climate policies around the world.

  • But BP is putting just $6.5 million toward campaigns advocating for state and federal climate policies this year and next, according to Geoff Morrell, a BP spokesman.
  • “We are spending millions and would gladly spend tens of millions more if there were viable net-zero policies to actively advocate for,” Morrell said. “Our spend reflects the state of play in this space.”
  • BP is supporting the European Union’s big climate policy and the United Kingdom’s plan to ban on sales of new internal combustion engine cars in 2035.

Flashback: BP spent $13 million two years ago helping defeat a ballot initiative in Washington state that would have put a price on carbon emissions, opposing it because it exempted certain industries. Looney said citing specific lobbying dollar amounts misses the point.

  • “I think what's much more important beyond whether it's $13 million or $20 million is the $5 billion that we're going to be spending each and every year on transition businesses in 2030,” Looney said.

The other side: “When you spend $13 million opposing major climate policy, it’s really hard to take you seriously on any advocacy,” said Jamal Raad, co-founder and campaign director of Evergreen Action, a nonprofit advocacy organization recently launched by former aides to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

What we’re watching: BP’s stated new lobbying posture will be put to an immediate test as states around the country step up climate policy, and especially if Joe Biden wins the White House. Washington state, for example, may pursue a fuels standard, which a company official says BP would support.

Go deeper: In climate-change reinvention, BP CEO dodges politics

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 22, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Yellen says Biden is "fully supportive" of carbon pricing

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Janet Yellen, President Biden's nominee to run the Treasury Department, has made clear to senators that her boss supports carbon pricing, but how that backing translates to policy is unknown.

Driving the news: "I am fully supportive of effective carbon pricing and I know that the President is as well," Yellen said in written answers to Senate Finance Committee members' questions published Thursday.

1 hour ago - Sports

Unvaccinated athletes face 21-day quarantine at Beijing Olympics

Logos for the 2022 Winter Olympics at Yanqing Ice Festival in February 2021 in Beijing. Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Athletes, staff members and journalists at the 2022 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus will be required to quarantine for three weeks, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) outlined in its newly-published "playbooks."

Why it matters: The quarantine period is longer than the Games themselves, meaning vaccinations or an earlier arrival date will be required to participate in or cover the Games.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
4 hours ago - Economy & Business

FTX CEO predicts more U.S. crypto flight

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

FTX doesn't look much like a company valued at $25 billion. Its new headquarters, located in a sleepy part of The Bahamas, is so nondescript as to not even have a sign. But it does expect to soon have neighbors.

Driving the news: Founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried tells "Axios on HBO" to expect "more and more crypto flight from the states" if the U.S. doesn't soon create a regulatory regime for cryptocurrencies.