Choose Your Energy Future

With eye on 2014 midterm elections, API’s Gerard urges freer oil, gas production

Samantha Oller, Senior Editor/Fuels, CSP

 Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute (API), outlines U.S. energy options

Jack Garard

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Pro-growth and forward-looking or self-limiting and backwards-looking: Those are the two choices the United States has in defining its energy future, according to Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute (API).

“Our future is ultimately of our own design,” Gerard said in his State of American Energy in 2014 speech on Tuesday. “The same holds true for our nation. Our generation will decide if America continues its march toward global energy leadership ... or if it will remain content to only play a supporting role.”

Gerard highlighted technological advancements—in particular, hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling—and their ability to put the United States on a path toward complete energy independence, and emphasized the need for energy policies that encourage greater production rather than rolling back or limiting it.

“If we are to continue our nation’s current positive energy production trends, we must implement energy policies based on current reality and our potential as an energy leader, not the outdated political ideology of the professional environmental fringe or political dilettantes,” said Gerard.

He explained that Americans can actively choose their preferred energy future by voting in the 2014 midterm elections.

“Elections matter,” said Gerard. “Those choices will have a lasting and profound impact on the direction of our nation’s energy policy. The collective decisions of the 2014 voters will shape whether and the extent to which our nation fulfills its potential as energy superpower.”

In an attempt to educate the public on this position, the API is launching an advocacy and messaging campaign, “America’s Energy, America’s Choice,” that presents the choice before Americans as two basic energy futures: one of abundance, self-sufficiency and global leadership, or one of scarcity, dependence and economic uncertainty.

The API—unlike groups such as the National Rifle Association—will not be grading legislators based on their loyalty to the industry, Gerard said. “As we look at support, we look at one thing: voting. Elections matter, this translates to votes; votes matter. The American public sets the agenda, and that all happens at the voting booth.”

While he noted that oil and gas will continue to provide most of the nation’s energy through 2025, Gerard acknowledged that rising global demand will require the United States to tap all available sources, including wind, nuclear, solar and biofuels. On this last item, in response to a question on the EPA’s proposed cuts in the volume mandates for biofuels in 2014, Gerard praised the agency for recognizing the blend wall but reiterated the API’s call for the Renewable Fuel Standard to be completely repealed.

Gerard also pushed for opening up greater oil and liquid natural gas (LNG) exports—coincidentally on the same day that Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska endorsed greater energy exports in a policy speech. He added that the industry has helped reduce the nation’s trade imbalance by more than 16% to reach a four-year low.

The association executive repeatedly referred to the Keystone XL pipeline, which is still undergoing an approval process that has stretched over five years, “far too long for a project that will create jobs, grow the economy and ultimately expand America’s ability to take full advantage of our nation’s bright energy future,” he said.
In his argument in support of the pipeline, Gerard cited the current debate on income inequality and highlighted the upstream oil and gas industries’ high-paying jobs—paying an average of seven times the U.S. minimum wage. A pro-growth energy policy would help narrow the gap, he said, and fight unemployment.

“It is a good example of why policy matters,” he continued, “and how dogmatic adherence to political ideology can trump economic reality to the detriment of millions of hard-working, middle-class families.”

Environmental groups have highlighted the Keystone XL pipeline as a project that would take the United States backwards in its efforts toward a cleaner fuel future. Gerard however highlighted the industry’s part in lowering carbon-dioxide emissions, which have reached their lowest levels in 20 years partly because of the nation’s greater adoption of cheaper, cleaner natural gas over coal. He also added that one out of every $6 invested in zero- and low-carbon-emitting technology comes from the oil and natural-gas industry.

During the question-and-answer period of the presentation, when asked about the role of energy efficiency, Gerard agreed it should be part of the entire equation but that the country should not overlook the need for growing oil and natural-gas production. Asked about the possibility of tax reform, the association executive said he does not believe it will take place in 2014, but cautioned against a tax policy that is punitive to the oil and gas industry, or targets any single industry.

Click here for a copy of the API’s State of American Industry Report.