API aims to make energy a key election issue

Source: Katie Howell • E&E  • Posted: Thursday, January 5, 2012

The oil and gas industry wants to thrust energy issues to the forefront of this year’s presidential and congressional campaigns.

The industry’s main trade group today launched a new advertising¬†campaign¬†called “Vote 4 Energy” that will run in several swing states in an effort to convince Americans to consider energy issues when casting their ballots.”It’s going to take more than tweaking current policies at the margins,” American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Jack Gerard said today during a speech in Washington, D.C. “It’s going to take a course correction. We must engage the American people on these issues and make energy an important part of our national debate this year.”The radio, television, print and social media advertising campaign will target states including Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, Gerard said.Gerard said the trade group hopes the new campaign will “further the discourse” on energy issues and “will heighten and build on what’s already there: a broad-based support for American energy resources.””We think a vote for energy gets us back to fundamentals,” he added. “When you talk to the American people about it in that context, I think it does resonate.”

The trade group is not endorsing a specific party or candidate, Gerard said. “Energy should be an American issue,” he said.

He declined to say how much the trade group would spend on the effort but said it would be a “significant amount.”

Environmentalists have already started blasting the effort. Greenpeace today fired off an advertisingcampaign that spoofs the API effort.

“Don’t let Big Oil script our energy future,” the Greenpeace ad says. “Vote 4 yourself, not oil executives.”

Will Keystone be an election issue?

Separately, Gerard warned that President Obama could face “huge political consequences” if he does not approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that would funnel crude from Canada’s oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries.

The comments come amid an intense lobbying battle over the pipeline. Industry and its allies on Capitol Hill are pressuring the Obama administration to approve the project. Obama last month signed into law a GOP-backed provision that would force him to make a decision on the pipeline within 60 days.

“We think it would be a huge mistake on the part of the president to deny construction of the Keystone XL pipeline,” Gerard said at this afternoon’s event. “It is in the national interest of the United States. If the president makes the determination not to approve the permit, we believe that is an issue that will have political consequence.”