API relaunches ‘Vote4Energy’ program leading up to 2016 elections

The American Petroleum Institute wants US voters to elect candidates in the 2016 elections who support broader development of the nation’s abundant energy resources to further benefit the general economy, create more good-paying jobs, and improve US and North American security, API Pres. Jack N. Gerard said.

“It is simple: If we are to create a better energy and economic future, we’ll need policies and policymakers that are willing to partner with the oil and gas industry to responsibly develop the immense energy potential we have within our borders,” he said at a June 23 breakfast where API relaunched the Vote4Energy voter education campaign it used prior to 2014’s mid-term elections.

“We must demand that those who represent us reject the outdated anti-energy political orthodoxy of those who advocate for a regressive energy policy that keeps fossil fuels in the ground, and demands and expects our society to embrace a substantially lower standard of living to satisfy their ‘off-fossil fuel’ agenda,” Gerard said.

“We must make it clear to our elected leaders that we expect them to pursue energy policies that advance our nation’s economy, energy security, and national security interests, and not to let the energy policy discussion become just another partisan talking point, because our energy future is too important and fundamental to our way of life and standard of living,” Gerard said.

In the relaunched Vote4Energy advocacy effort, API will try to encourage a comprehensive conversation about the nation’s energy future by engaging voter-consumers and policymakers, Gerard said.

Compares policy consequences

API released a Wood Mackenzie study it commissioned that Gerard said contrasts pro-energy development policies’ potential rewards with possible long-term economic harm which could result from regulatory constraints and barriers to energy production, transportation, and refining which the federal government has imposed or is considering.

“Broadly, the study found that by 2034, pro-development policies could increase US production by approximately 8 million boe/d, support 2.3 million more jobs in the US economy—a million just in the next decade—provide a cumulative $1.1 trillion in additional revenue to the government, and add $433 billion/year to the nation’s [gross domestic product] and $118 billion/year to the nation’s household income,” Gerard said.

Conversely, he said the study estimates that the combined negative impact of proposed and imposed federal regulations (ranging from the US Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed ground-level ozone limits to the US Bureau of Land Management’s proposed hydraulic fracturing regulations) could cut US energy production by 3.4 million boe/d, reduced domestic industry-support jobs by 830,000, cut revenue to the government by a cumulative $500 billion, and shrink domestic GDP by $133 billion/year.

Gerard said the study vividly illustrates what’s at stake with the differences between pro energy policies’ benefits and anti-energy policies’ negative effects.

“In terms of US production, the difference is 11 million boe/d, which for context is approximately the current rate of liquid production in Russia,” Gerard said. “The difference in job creation is more than 3 million jobs, or greater than the population of our nation’s third-largest city, Chicago. And regulatory constraints could reduce combined gasoline and diesel fuel production by close to 500,000 b/d.”

Other speakers at the event emphasized the importance of more favorable federal energy policies to the nation’s economic growth, job creation, and national security. Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers International Union of North America, said construction unemployment in some parts of the country which was 20-30% in 2008 now is around 7-8%. “Energy filled the jobs gap at a time our country can’t seem to get its highway infrastructure right,” he observed.

Pandering, not policies

O’Sullivan said that instead of a national energy policy, “we have political pandering.” Twenty natural gas pipelines have been proposed in New England to reduce high winter heating costs there, but only 11 are moving through a US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission review, he noted. “We need to have a rational and thoughtful conversation about energy in this country. It’s not oil that’s dirty—it’s politics,” O’Sullivan said.

“We’ve heard a lot about unemployment numbers coming down, but it’s not happening in African-American communities,” said Paula Jackson, president of the American Association of Blacks in Energy. “We’ve reached a place where working collaboratively is considered a bad thing. A lot of people here in Washington listen to the outliers, and not the people who are working together. None of us want dirty air, but we also don’t want to be unemployed.”

Retired US Navy Adm. Don Loren, now national liaison for the Vets4Energy program, said he’d like to see the 2016 election campaign conversation address federal energy policies’ national security consequences more than before. “We believe America’s sons and daughters in our military services are particularly well-suited to new energy jobs because they have shown they learn quickly and work hard,” he said.

“The key opportunity lies in innovation,” said Karen Kerrigan, president of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. “As long as conditions are good for investment and entrepreneurship, innovation will flourish. Obviously, policies will need to change to make this happen.”

To politicians who claim major energy projects’ construction creates only temporary jobs, Kerrigan added: “I would point out that all elected officials hold temporary jobs, and need to do more with the limited time they have if they intend to keep those jobs for long.”

Climate discussions also need to consider consumers, Gerard suggested. “We need to understand the reality that the world will continue to consumer energy,” he said. “It’s how nations economically grow. We all aspire to cleaner forms of energy, but we also need to consider reality.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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