Oil industry unfazed by Trump — top lobbyist

Source: Geof Koss, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, June 23, 2016

The head of the American Petroleum Institute said the group had no plans to scale back financial support for the Republican convention in Cleveland next month, while acknowledging that companies would like additional clarity from presumed GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump on recent comments about the Keystone XL pipeline.

While some companies, including Apple Inc., have said they won’t donate to the GOP convention in Cleveland because of the controversy surrounding Trump’s campaign and statements, API President Jack Gerard said he plans to be at both the GOP and Democratic gatherings to press policymakers on the economic opportunities for domestic oil and gas production.

“Our candidate is energy, so we see it as an opportunity to advance our candidacy — energy. So whether we’re in Cleveland or Philadelphia, that’s where we focused on,” Gerard said after an API-sponsored event on the campaigns.

“We don’t see it tied so much to any individual candidate or personality as much as an opportunity to have that broader, generic electoral conversation, if you will, on the role of energy,” he said.

Gerard, however, said he was puzzled by Trump’s recent comments that he would approve the Keystone XL pipeline if the American people receive a share of the profits.

He said, “Some of the comments he’s made, like about Keystone, for example, we need some further clarification. What does that mean? Historically, of course the government’s not in the business of doing business transactions with the private sector. We’re hopeful that’s just a misstatement, and we’ll have to sit down and visit with him about it.”

Gerard applauded Trump’s overall focus on the regulatory environment. The presumptive nominee made a high-profile energy speech last month and focused on rolling back Obama administration priorities.

“I was pleased to hear his comments about we’ve got to look at the regulatory burden,” Gerard told reporters. “You know the current administration’s energy policies are pretty muddled. It’s pretty conflicting what they’re doing.”

Gerard went on: “At one point, they’re saying, ‘Well, gee, public, you enjoy $2-per-gallon gasoline.’ … But at the same time, they’ve imposed 106 pending regulations on us. You can’t have it both ways. So it’s a bit of a mixed message. We’re hopeful to get clarity there, but the regulatory arena is one that clearly has to be looked at.”

During this morning’s event, API unveiled new polling showing broad public support for increasing access to domestic oil and gas reserves and for increased production. Researchers found that 73 percent of voters believe federal regulations contribute to higher gasoline costs.

Such polls will be at the heart of the oil and gas industry’s message at the conventions. “We believe energy should be a nonpartisan issue,” said Gerard.

Still, Gerard expressed unease with the energy debate playing out in the Democratic party, where Hillary Clinton has talked tough about hydraulic fracturing.

“We’re anxious to see where Secretary Clinton comes out,” he said, noting the appointment of prominent environmental activist Bill McKibben to the Democratic platform committee. “We have some pretty extreme views” represented.

Sean Spicer, chief strategist and communications director for the Republican National Committee, noted that Democrats are far more divided on energy policy than Republicans.

He said Trump will soon outline additional energy and environmental views, but details on the candidate’s position are more likely to surface in the form of papers posted online rather than through “wonky speeches at Brookings or Heritage.”

“That’s just not his thing,” Spicer said. “I think you might see more discussion of the issues, but it’s not going to be in the standard forms.”