ConocoPhillips withdraws from Arctic Refuge lobbying group

ConocoPhillips, the third-largest energy company in the U.S., has withdrawn from Arctic Power, a lobbying group the sole purpose of which is to convince Congress to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The company is playing down what it calls “merely a business decision,” saying its intent is to focus on getting more black gold out of its current holdings on Alaska’s North Slope. However, enviros and socially responsible investors are playing up the role of a campaign they organized, culminating in a shareholder resolution, urging the company to drop out. A similar campaign prompted BP to bail on the organization in 2002, but thus far the group’s other members, ChevronTexaco and ExxonMobil, remain immune to the greens’ blandishments. Said Athan Manuel, director of U.S. PIRG’s Arctic Wilderness Campaign, “It appears that ConocoPhillips and BP are more enlightened than the Bush administration when it comes to drilling in the Arctic Refuge.”