At the opening session of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC)‘s recent annual business meeting held in Denver, Colorado, the commission’s Nebraska state representative Bill Sydow was closing up at the horseshoe-shaped roundtable by making a few heads turn.
“I spent Thanksgiving in Chicago with my daughter and her two friends and I’m talking about climate change and global warming and I’m not a skeptic, I’m a denier” stated Sydow, the director of Nebraska’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, flanked by dozens of IOGCC state representatives at the mid-May meeting.
“And so I’m talking to these two kids and they’re like ‘What are you talking about?’ They have never heard another side to the issue.”
Minutes later, Matt Lepore — director of Colorado’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and his state’s official representative to the IOGCC — reminded those seated that there might be some in the audience “taking notes.”
“I don’t need to, but I will remind everyone that there are a lot of people in the audience taking notes, so bear that in mind as you ask and answer questions,” said Lepore as the floor opened for questions.
That didn’t stop Mike Nickolaus, Groundwater Protection Council’s (a spin-off of IOGCC) lead staff on FracFocus, from stepping up to the podium and speaking in solidarity with Sydow on climate denial.
“Bill, I have to disagree with you. Mr. Sydow, I have to disagree with you,” said Nikolaus. “I’m not a climate denier. I’m a geologist and when people ask me how long the climate’s been changing I say, ‘Oh, about 4.5 billion years.’ So where ya gonna go with that?”
State-level commissions, such as those in Nebraska and Colorado, serve as oil and gas industry regulatory agencies in their respective states.
ExxonMobil, currently under Attorneys General investigation in 17 states for knowing and studying the impacts of climate change dating back to the 1970’s and then funding the climate denial machine to the tune of $31 million between 1998-2014, served as a gold-level sponsor of IOGCC’s Denver meeting via its subsidiary XTO Energy.
Gold-level sponsors donate $15,000 for the meeting and in return receive three complimentary registrations, an advertisement placed in the printed meeting program and other perks. XTO also served as a gold-level sponsor of IOGCC’s annual meeting held in Oklahoma City in October 2015 and Lindsey Dingmore — vice president of government and regulatory affairs for XTO — is an at-large member of IOGCC as an appointee for the State of Texas and sits on IOGCC’s legal and regulatory affairs committee.
IOGCC, funded by state-level oil and gas production cash and by industry funding for its twice-annual meetings, exists due toU.S. congressional legislation signed in 1935 creating the compact. It is a collective of the 30 oil and gas producing states in the U.S., plus eight additional associate members and nine international affiliates (which includes the six Canadian provinces).
Far from just an aberration ensuing in recent years, a DeSmog investigation reveals that climate denial has been an IOGCCmainstay for decades.