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Photo: Kena Betancur/VIEWpress/Corbis via Getty Images

ExxonMobil is working to encourage a major Washington lobbying group to support policies addressing climate change, according to a top company official.

Why it matters: Facing public, investor and legal pressure, oil companies are increasingly backing action on the issue of climate change while still remaining members of trade associations whose positions don’t align with that shift. At issue here is the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, whose focus is oil and gas refining.

Driving the news: Royal Dutch Shell, under pressure from activist investors, announced earlier this year it was leaving AFPM, citing "material misalignment"" on climate policies. Exxon is opting to stay and try to influence the group’s positioning, Nick Schulz, Exxon’s director of stakeholder engagement, said at a recent conference.

Where it stands: "They are very aware of what our view is and we are trying to get AFPM to a different position,” said Schulz. “There are other members of AFPM that have a very different view on this."

  • Schulz, who made these comments at a breakfast hosted by The Atlantic at the Aspen Ideas Festival last week in Colorado, said AFPM’s work on other issues — namely safety — are valuable to Exxon.
  • An Exxon spokesperson said the company doesn't support AFPM's position against increasing fuel efficiency standards.

Between the lines: Exxon also supports the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and a carbon tax. Those positions ring hollow to many environmentalists who accuse the oil giant of having muddled the science on climate change decades ago in an effort to stymie action.

  • Yet Exxon also faces skepticism among smaller oil companies and some conservative interest groups for what they see as a massive corporation trying to push out its smaller competitors via government policy.

One level deeper:

“We also think working within the organizations trying to move them along is better than the alternative, which is what some companies have done, which is you exit the trade association. But, then you lose your ability to influence in any way shape or form, which doesn’t mean you don’t ultimately take that step some time, but we think that sometimes that can be counterproductive in the long run.”
— Nick Schulz, Exxon's director of stakeholder engagement

For the record: A spokesman for AFPM said the group has never taken an official position on the Paris Climate Agreement, and is committed to reducing carbon emissions by making more efficient transportation fuels. “We continue to work with our members to evaluate various proposals and the role we can play in the overall effort,” the spokeswoman said by email.

Go deeper: Inside Exxon’s climate strategy

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Kaine, Collins pitch Senate colleagues on censuring Trump

Sen. Tim Kaine speaks with Sen. Susan Collins. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine and Susan Collins are privately pitching their colleagues on a bipartisan resolution censuring former President Trump, three sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction in his second impeachment.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Anthony Coley to lead Justice Department public affairs

Photo: Xinhua/Ting Shen via Getty Images

Judge Merrick Garland, President Biden’s nominee for attorney general, has tapped Anthony Coley, an Obama-era Treasury Department official, to serve as a senior adviser and to lead public affairs at the Department of Justice, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: As the public face of the DOJ, Coley will help explain — and defend — the department's actions, from sensitive cases to prosecutorial decisions, including the investigation into Hunter Biden.

AP: Justice Dept. rescinds "zero tolerance" policy

A young girl waves to onlookers through the fence at the U.S.-Mexico border wall in San Ysidro, California, in Nov. 2018. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden's acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson issued a memo on Tuesday to revoke the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy, which separated thousands of migrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border, AP first reported.

Driving the news: A recent report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz emphasized the internal chaos at the agency over the implementation of the policy, which resulted in 545 parents separated from their children as of October 2020.

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