API outlines main issues for GOP, Democrats' 2012 platforms

The American Petroleum Institute announced it will try to make more access to federally controlled energy resources, commonsense regulations, quicker permit decisions, and market-based renewable and alternative energy research and development provisions in the 2012 Democratic and Republican party platforms.

“Just as the decision voters will make in November will determine the country’s political direction, so the leaders they elect will make decisions affecting the nation’s energy future,” API Pres. Jack N. Gerard said as the trade association released its report to the platform committees on May 15. “With the right leadership, we can take control of our energy future.”

A comprehensive conversation about energy policy in this presidential election year can help voters select leaders who will make sound decisions that create more jobs, increase government revenue, and increase US energy security, Gerard stated. But experts at API’s event were not certain whether voters would keep energy a major election issue now that gasoline prices have begun to ease.

Former US Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-SD), now a senior policy advisor and government relations co-chairman at Arent Fox LLP’s Washington office, said the US political system normally reacts more to bad news than to favorable energy trends, such as the US natural gas outlook turning from net imports to exports in the last 3 years.

He forecasts that energy tax incentives will be closely examined following the election, and noted that he is working with former Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) on a Bipartisan Policy Center study on the subject that will be issued in early 2013.

Among five top issues

James L. Connaughton, who chaired the White House Council on Environmental Quality during George W. Bush’s presidency before joining Exelon Corp. in March as an executive vice-president and senior policy advisor, said energy nevertheless remains among the 2012 election’s five top issues.

“Getting our heads around the good news and not screwing things up will be important,” he stated, adding that another question will be whether the federal government can match the private sector’s energy development growth.

Joseph C. Stanko Jr., a former US House Energy and Commerce Committee counsel who now is a partner in Hunton & Williams LLP’s Washington office, said federal energy regulations’ potentially adverse impacts on US industrial recovery could become an election issue.

The recession’s lingering effects are masking US energy demand growth, he observed, adding, “One of my concerns is that we’re creating a regulatory environment that doesn’t encourage new industrial investment.”

Meanwhile, Kevin Book, managing director for research at Clearview Energy Partners, said encouraging more US oil and gas production probably will be a major election year issue only in the nation’s four main producing states where it generates 1% of the total US gross domestic product and has created 3% of the new jobs the past few years.

“People care about energy policy in this election no only because of the jobs it will create, but also because of what energy could cost in the future,” Book said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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