American Petroleum Institute brings focus on domestic energy expansion to NH

American Petroleum Institute (API) Executive Vice President Marty Durbin was in New Hampshire this week to co-host an Energy Jobs Summit at St. Anselm’s New Hampshire Institute of Politics on Tuesday evening, where the organization unveiled a new poll about how NH voters view energy issues.

NH Journal sat down with Durbin in Concord shortly before the event, and discussed the poll, this week’s NH visit, and API’s agenda for the 2012 election cycle.

“We want to make sure that both voters and the candidates understand the important role that energy, and specifically the oil and natural gas industry, play in our economy,” said Durbin of the decision to hold events in NH, noting the Granite State’s unique role in the presidential process.

According to the poll, jobs and the economy rank top among the issues most important to NH voters, but increasing American energy independence and domestic energy production came in a close third across the political spectrum. Durbin explains that the issues are inextricably linked: “All through the recession our industry is one of the few that’s been creating jobs, and we are generating significant revenue,” noting that the oil and natural gas industry contributes $86 million in federal revenue every day, a number that will only increase with expanded domestic energy production.

API’s specific policy goals include increasing offshore drilling, building the Keystone XL pipeline to import oil from Canada, and the continuing to develop natural gas as a fuel source. The group uses a wide range of tools to push its policy agenda, including paid advertising, building grassroots and coalition support, and working directly with Members of Congress and regulators.

So what is API’s role in the 2012 campaign? Durbin notes that API is a non-partisan organization and under no circumstances will formally endorse a candidate. Rather, the group’s efforts are focused on educating candidates, elected officials, and voters. “We have reached out directly to each of the candidates running for president and to the President himself, so this is not a partisan issue,” says Durbin, “we want to make sure everybody has the data that we’ve put together showing the job creation potential of the oil and natural gas industry, and the potential we have for generating revenue at a time when Congress and the super committee are struggling with how to deal with our budget deficit.”

While API may aim to stay above the partisan fray, Durbin is certainly hoping their poll will send a message to decision makers in Washington that the American people want to expand domestic energy production and they want it now. “The President has the authority today to allow for much greater production of domestic oil and natural gas. He doesn’t have to go to Congress to ask for more authority. There are some things Congress can do, but offshore resources, approving the Keystone XL pipeline, making sure we continue to take advantage of shale gas and oil resources around the country, and other policies are all things the President can do today.”

At the end of the day, API’s core message is that while many like to beat up on ‘Big Oil’ for political purposes, the oil and natural gas industries employ our people, provide the energy we need to live, and help our economy, and could do more of both if given the chance. Says Durbin, “To improve our energy security, to give ourselves more control over our energy future is what it really comes down to.”

Take a look at API’s poll below:

API New Hampshire Poll

Author: Staff Reporter

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