by Steve Milloy, E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow and Founder
As appearing on

I love oil companies. But I hate lying. Especially climate lying.

Oil companies have for years been telling the public that they are reducing CO2 emissions by storing CO2 underground when they inject it into wells to produce hard-to-reach oil. This process is called “enhanced oil recovery” or EOR. I showed the claim was false years ago. But no company would admit it.

Now thanks to my shareholder proposal (below) at ExxonMobil, I have forced an oil company to admit for the first time that its use of CO2 in EOR produces on a net basis more CO2 (when the oil is ultimately burned) than the amount of CO2 stored underground.

So, for example, if a conventionally produced barrel of oil produces 0.42 tons of CO2 when burned (per EPA), then an EOR-produced barrel of oil will produce 0.26 tons (per ExxonMobil) — versus the oil company propaganda that gives the impression that each ton of CO2 used in EOR reduced emissions by one ton. So EOR reduces emissions (vs. emissions for oil produced without EOR), but it does not offset emissions as implied/claimed.

Not only is this admission important to expose the false greenwashing claim, but US taxpayers are subsidizing oils companies for engaging in this con. Oil companies have used EOR for decades because it is economical. They shouldn’t be subsidized to do it for climate.

My proposal and ExxonMobil’s response is below. ExxonMobil’s admission is highlighted below.