Jack Gerard is president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, which represents U.S. oil and natural gas industry interests nationwide.
What was the biggest challenge for the oil and natural gas industry this year?
Our greatest challenge was ensuring that energy — and oil and natural gas in particular — remained front and center in the public political debate in a critical election year — and using a tightly contested election year to effectively advance both our priority advocacy objectives as well as our core messages on the value of America’s oil and natural gas industry.
What was the biggest success?
As a result of our efforts, energy was a prominent topic both the presidential and congressional campaigns and we were able to focus the debate on our industry’s potential to spur economic growth and create jobs. President [Barack] Obama, who not too long ago was describing oil as “yesterday’s energy,” abandoned his harshest criticism and took credit for increased oil and natural gas production, for making “millions of acres” available for oil development, and he lauded the economic and environmental benefits of natural gas. Across the country, we saw elected officials of both parties stand with us to highlight the job creation, economic grown, energy production and government revenue potential of the oil and natural gas industry. In addition, the White House began to demonstrate a greater understanding of our priority issues and we were able to initiate a new dialogue with the administration on some of those issues.
What is the strategy on the policy front for 2013?
We will continue to work with the administration to advance its all-of-the-above energy position. And we will work with both the administration and members of Congress to find a solution to the nation’s fiscal and debt crisis without target our industry for punitive tax treatment. We will seek to advance our other priority issues, including approval of the Keystone XL pipeline; increased access to offshore and onshore public lands for oil and natural gas exploration; encouragement of shale oil and natural gas development; and an honest reassessment of onerous regulations that make it increasingly difficult for our industry to provide Americans with the energy they need.
What landscape changes should companies expect to see next year?
We will see a renewed interest in tax reform as both parties struggle to find solutions to the nation’s economic and fiscal woes. We intend to remain fully engaged in this debate to ensure that policymakers do not lose sight of the enormous contributions our industry makes to the nations’ economy. Our industry has provided one of the few bright spots as the economy struggles toward recovery. Through hundreds of billions of dollars invested to develop vast new oil and natural gas reserves, and to expand our refining capacity, this industry is not only producing the energy a growing economy demands, but also creating tens of thousands of high-paying jobs while generating billions in new revenue for the government. We fully recognize that a solution to the debt and deficit crisis must be found. However, tax and revenue issues are best addressed as part of a comprehensive tax reform effort. We look forward to being part of constructive efforts when all issues, and all taxpayers, are considered equally.
This question-and-answer session was produced as part of SmartBrief’s 2012 Best Of reports, which capture the year’s most important stories in each industry. Sign up now for API SmartBrief to get tomorrow’s report on the top must-read stories from the oil and natural gas industry.
Image courtesy of the American Petroleum Institute.