American Petroleum Institute to concentrate on electing friendly officials

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WASHINGTON -- Temperatures in Washington were colder than they've been in two decades, but the climate was right Tuesday for a leading voice in the petroleum industry to launch a campaign aimed at helping energy-friendly lawmakers prevail in November's midterm elections.

"The collective decisions of the 2014 voters will shape whether, and the extent to which, our nation fulfills its potential as [an] energy superpower," said Jack Gerard, CEO of the American Petroleum Industry.

He spoke Tuesday to 200 energy policy analysts, lobbyists and industry officials during a luncheon at the Newseum, where he offered his trade group's fourth annual report on the state of American energy.

In extended remarks, Mr. Gerard stumped for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, said hydraulic fracturing is increasingly important in the quest for energy independence, criticized "the outdated political ideology of the professional environmental fringe" and encouraged policy-shapers to rely on science rather than flawed, outdated assumptions and political orthodoxy.

That's what citizens want, Mr. Gerard said. The more they learn the truth about the oil and gas industry, the more supportive they are of the industry's efforts to help the country become energy-independent, he said.

"Energy is one of the few issues that can unite us," he said. It shouldn't be a source of skirmishes and political battles in Washington and in statehouses, Mr. Gerard said.

He used the platform to introduce the institute's "America's Energy, America's Choice" campaign.

"Our goal is to ensure that as our elected representatives and appointed officials make energy policy, the will of the American people is uppermost in their minds and the dominant voice in the energy public policy discussion," he said.

In remarks after his formal address, Mr. Gerard told reporters that the effort would not include grading politicians, as many other groups do, but would include scrutinizing voting records to decide which candidates to support.

One goal is to help elect politicians who will advance a plan to build the Keystone XL, a pipeline that would bring Canadian crude oil to Gulf Coast refineries.

The pipeline plan has been under evaluation for more than five years. That's longer than the country's involvement in World War II and almost as long as it took to build the transcontinental railroad, Mr. Gerard pointed out.

Mr. Gerard declined to say how much API is prepared to spend to influence the mid-terms and to educate people about energy policy.

"The more the public understands, the more confidence they show for the oil-and-gas sector," he said. "Policy matters. Elections matter."

Shale drilling, in particular, has transformed the country from a place of energy scarcity to one of energy abundance, he said. That means new policies are in order, he said.

"We are poised to achieve something big that perhaps could be the biggest thing of our century if we do it well and we do it right," he said.

The American Petroleum Institute represents more than 580 companies involved in oil and gas exploration, production, refining, marketing and distribution as well as marine businesses and service and supply firms.

Bureau chief Tracie Mauriello:, 1-703-996-9292 or on Twitter @pgPoliTweets.

Washington Bureau Chief Tracie Mauriello:, 703-996-9292 or on Twitter @pgPoliTweets. First Published January 7, 2014 1:28 PM

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