Petroleum group quadruples lobbying spending

A lobbying arm of the petroleum industry nearly quadrupled its spending last year as it did battle against federal mandates for fuel production.

The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) spent nearly $2 million lobbying in the final quarter of 2012, compared with just over $500,000 for the same period in 2011, according to lobbying disclosure records released this week.

The spending was also a huge increase over the third quarter, when the trade group’s lobbying expenditures totaled $971,000.

AFPM declined to comment.

The group has angled for changes to a rule that encourages biofuel use, advocated approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline and pushed back against White House air emissions regulations.

AFPM has sought to tear down a biofuel-blending mandate and reverse an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision that permitted sales of a high-ethanol fuel blend.

The biofuel mandate requires refiners to blend 36 billion gallons of biofuel into traditional transportation fuel by 2022. Refiners will likely need to use more of a high-ethanol fuel known as E15 to meet the rule’s accelerating blending targets.

E15 contains 15 percent ethanol, compared with the standard 10 percent. EPA last year approved its use in cars made in 2001 or later.

AFPM and the American Petroleum Institute, along with several automakers, contend that fuel blend poses risks to cars that warranties won’t cover.

Biofuel groups retort that AFPM and its allies are fussing over E15 and the biofuel rule because they eat at oil-and-gas profits. The biofuels industry contends the higher blend is safe for cars.

Separately, AFPM also has pushed for the approval of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.

That project would bring Canadian oil sands to the Gulf Coast, which would benefit AFPM’s members in the refining industry. API recently initiated an advertising push promoting Keystone, saying it would be a boon to domestic refining.

Green groups have embarked on an all-out effort to get Obama to kill the pipeline. They are concerned about the potential of costly spills and releasing more greenhouse gas emissions into the air.

The Obama administration has the final say on that project because it crosses into Canada. The State Department is currently reviewing the pipeline, which could be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2013, at the earliest.

While AFPM is currently waging the Keystone battle with the White House, it suffered setbacks with other administration decisions.

EPA forged ahead with greenhouse gas and other emissions rules AFPM fought, despite industry and GOP warnings that the rules would prove economically burdensome.

The agency finalized its long-awaited fine particulate matter, or soot, rule in December. The standard, which AFPM opposed, reduced the annual exposure limit to the harmful pollutants to 12 micograms per cubic meter, down from 15.

Democrats and public health groups lauded the rule. They said it would protect people from pollution from factories, power plants, diesel vehicles and other sources that enter the bloodstream and lungs.