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Oil Group Launches Campaign for Public Support

A major oil lobby group is launching an ad campaign to make sure energy issues remain at the center of this year’s presidential race.

The “Vote 4 Energy” campaign launched by the American Petroleum Institute is designed to “help Americans understand what’s at stake and why energy issues should figure prominently in their voting decisions,” said Jack Gerard, the president and chief executive officer of API.

He unveiled the campaign at the organization’s annual State of American Energy event in Washington, D.C., today. The campaign will include television, radio and print ads — including some in metro stations near Capitol Hill — as well as social media outreach to more than 10 million individuals who support the oil advocacy group.

Gerard would not say how much API plans to spend on the campaign, but he said it was a “significant investment” that would target states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia that stand to benefit from domestic oil production.

“We are going to encourage voters, all voters, to make energy a voting issue,” Gerard said after playing a promotional video that pushed for greater domestic energy production as a way to create jobs.

“Getting on the right track means that we must engage the American people,” he said.

The lobby group has pressed policymakers to let oil and gas companies extract fossil fuels from gas reserves on land and offshore, but it has faced significant opposition from those who say the techniques used to tap those reserves harm the environment.

Though Gerard emphasized that the electoral campaign would be nonpartisan, he did express disappointment with many policies of the current administration.

“There’s a vision that welcomes only certain energy investments,” he said. “We must abandon the energy rhetoric that pits one resource against another.”

Gerard blamed the administration for creating uncertainty about regulations and hampering energy growth, saying an increased tax on the oil and gas industry proposed by President Barack Obama would “drive investment out of the country.”

Gerard also warned that the president could face political consequences for his administration’s decision to put off until 2013 a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, which would deliver oil from Canadian oil sands to the United States. Industry groups and Republicans in Congress argue that the president is stalling until after November’s election at the expense of economic growth and the creation of 20,000 immediate jobs.

Additionally, Gerard said regulators have blocked access to shale and natural gas reserves both offshore and in states such as North Dakota, Ohio and New York. According to API, developing those reserves could create 1.4 million new jobs and generate billions in revenue for the government.

“There’s an incoherent approach to natural gas development, lauding its obvious benefits while ratcheting up pressure for new layers of duplicative regulations that could cost and stop this energy development dead in its tracks,” he said.

Deb Nardone, campaign director of natural gas reform at the Sierra Club, questioned Gerard’s assertion that most Americans support the industry’s natural gas practices.

“I think people are very concerned about whether the process is safe,” she said. “The gas industry has seen that they’re not winning over public support, and there is a lot of skepticism.”

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