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  • Published: Aug 30th, 2009
  • Category: USA
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Murphy Oil chairman criticizes carbon limit bill

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A bill before Congress to limit pollution linked to global warming is unlikely to produce the intended result, the chairman and former chief executive of Murphy Oil Corp. said Friday.

The U.S. should instead be putting more emphasis on nuclear power as a carbon-free way of generating electricity, Claiborne Deming said in a speech at the Clinton Presidential Library. He also said the government should pay drivers incentives to switch from gasoline engines to more fuel efficient diesel-powered vehicles.

Deming said he was skeptical that the legislation, which the House passed in June, would quickly create more jobs than it would cost.

“I won’t bet on green energy (jobs) in the short run,” he said, but added that he believes employment in new energy will be strong in the longer term.

The legislation would require the U.S. to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and by about 80 percent by mid-century. Deming said carbon emissions in the U.S. would not grow nearly as much in that time frame as they are expected to in China. He said the bill would have a very limited effect because it would not affect carbon output by China and other big polluters.

Under the bill, the government would limit pollution from factories, refineries and power plants and issue allowances for polluters. Most of those would be given away, but about 15 percent would be auctioned off, with the money from the winning bidders used to defray energy costs for lower-income people.

Oil companies have complained that they would have to pay vastly more for carbon credits than other energy companies, such as coal.

One audience member asked Deming why Murphy would not use its capital to invest in alternative energy. Deming said that for now, the government should subsidize development of green energy.

“We don’t have the expertise to pick a winner yet,” he said. “It’s premature to risk your own capital.”

Deming said it makes sense for Murphy to devote its capital to its oil business.

“The world still needs our product,” he said.

El Dorado-based Murphy Oil has production sites in the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada and Kuala Lumpur. It had 2008 revenue of $27.5 billion.

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