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Royalty organization director blasts Obama's politicization of climate change

The executive director of the National Association of Royalty Owners on Friday disparaged the Obama administration's use of climate change as a political tactic as the association's North Dakota chapter gathered at the Ramada Grand Dakota Hotel i...

Jerry Simmons, National Association of Royalty Owners executive director, said Friday at the annual conference of the organization's North Dakota chapter that associations between fossil fuels and global climate change are politically motivated and based on inaccurate science.
Jerry Simmons, National Association of Royalty Owners executive director, said Friday at the annual conference of the organization's North Dakota chapter that associations between fossil fuels and global climate change are politically motivated and based on inaccurate science.

The executive director of the National Association of Royalty Owners on Friday disparaged the Obama administration's use of climate change as a political tactic as the association's North Dakota chapter gathered at the Ramada Grand Dakota Hotel in Dickinson to talk energy policy and the future of fuel.

Jerry Simmons referenced a segment of President Barack Obama's 2016 State of the Union address in which the president spoke of fossil fuels as "dirty" energy sources whose use is conducive to global climate change.

"You've all heard this one, that the president was talking about, that the science is settled and that 97 percent of scientists agree that we, humans, are causing the planet to warm because of our CO2 emissions," Simmons said. "It ain't so."

Simmons had just finished discussing NARO's advocacy work in channels of the federal government, where the organization works to promote favorable tax conditions for royalty owners and other industry stakeholders. He encouraged attendees to remain active in contacting members of Congress to guide policy on their own tax deductions before briefly discussing the organization's various entities, which include a political action committee to fund its activities in Washington D.C.

Simmons' presentation on Friday touched less on royalties and more on topics like perceptions of climate change and fracking, as well as federal policy aiming to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

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He encouraged audience members to "arm yourself" with information discrediting the research methods of studies supporting theories of anthropogenic climate change.

"You can get in their face, you can present them with facts, you can teach others how to do this," he said. " ... People that claim we are having such a major effect on the environment and are causing the planet to warm, they simply don't know what they're talking about. They're not looking at the real science and they've got a political agenda."

XTO Energy manager talks ExxonMobil projections for future of fuel

Matt Briney, the Bakken operations manager for ExxonMobil subsidiary XTO Energy, hit on various points of possible interest to a mineral rights stakeholder.

Briney took a softer stance than Simmons on the link between emissions and climate change, citing statements from ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson acknowledging that the "risks are out there and deserve action."

Briney showcased ExxonMobil's energy outlook through 2040, which focuses on global supply and demand trends for various energy sources.

Despite the broad scope of the projection, he began on a more local scale with a brief tribute to the victims of last Saturday's workover rig fire on an XTO Energy well site in McKenzie County. The fire resulted in the death of oilfield worker Johnny Stassinos, 52, and the serious injury of two of his coworkers.

Briney's presentation ran through a breakdown of six divisional themes, which state that energy is fundamental to standards of living, that developing nations will lead gains in gross domestic product and living standards, that economics and policies impact fuel mixes, that oil will remain the world's primary fuel through 2040, that natural gas will grow in usage more than any other energy source, and that technology has high potential and yields the greatest uncertainty.

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"Over the long term, there's two main drivers to demand for energy in world: the number of people and economic activity," Briney said.

ExxonMobil's projections chart a global population of a little over 9 billion people in the year 2040. Those people, the projection states, will divide a global gross domestic product that more than doubles over the examined period and favors countries like China and India. Along with the predicted rise in global population, Briney said ExxonMobil's outlook projects an increase in total demand for energy of more than 25 percent.

The relatively small growth in energy demand, he said, is attributed to increased efficiencies in energy usage. ExxonMobil also predicts carbon emissions will peak in 2030 and decline from there.

The oil company's take on the future is in some ways a "good-news story," Briney said.

"We're projecting great economic expansion for world, which is great news for billions," he said. "We think economic expansion will require a lot of energy, and we think the energy mix will change over time as governments put different policies in place. Because of the entrepreneurship and ingenuity of the industry, we think we'll meet those demands with what we currently have on our plates."

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