Whenever you buy food, nutrition facts tell you how many calories, sugar, saturated fat and other vitamins are in your product. The government also mandates disclosure on elements of other products too. But not for oil, where a consumer generally doesn’t know where in the world their product at the gas pump comes from and what its environmental impact may be.
What the bill does
Last week Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA2) introduced H.R. 6082, the Know Your Oil Act. Under current law, an agency within the Department of Energy (DOE) can analyze and report on some greater trends regarding greenhouse gas emissions. This bill would require the DOE to collect far more data for public release, including “greenhouse gas emissions during extraction, refining, and combustion,” oil field locations, and transportation methods for the product. The data would then be published online in a free and public way.
What supporters say
Supporters argue that the bill is a necessary step towards transparency instead of secrecy, and can help consumers make smarter choices to help the environment.
“As the saying goes, you can’t change what you don’t measure,” House lead sponsor Huffman said in a press release. “In terms of climate impacts, not all oil is created equal, but current law makes it impossible to know how specific oil choices affect greenhouse gas emissions. That’s why the ‘Know Your Oil Act’ is so important. We need to force disclosure and close this knowledge gap so that consumers, industries, investors, and policymakers are fully informed when they make decisions affecting the climate.”
What opponents say
The bill was only released last week and hasn’t attracted much in the way of public opposition yet. But Republicans often oppose required safety standards as “anti-business,” such as their bill earlier this summer which many groups contend would weaken state-passed labeling standards for food containing genetically-modified organisms (GMO). The bill has attracted five co-sponsors, all Democrats.
Odds of passage
It doesn’t appear that either President Obama or the two leading presidential candidates have weighed in on this specific bill. But the Obama Administration’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has similarly tried to pass rules requiring disclosure of fracking locations and company disclosure of chemicals used in the fracking process. (The rules were struck down this summer by a federal judge.) This indicates that Obama is likely sympathetic to this kind of legislation.
The Know Your Oil Act has not yet received a vote in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.