Oil lobby presents energy policy wish-list to GOP, Democrats

The American Petroleum Institute (API), the powerful oil-industry group, outlined its energy priorities Tuesday for the Republican and Democratic platform committees that are crafting their parties’ stances for this summer’s nominating conventions.

While the API recommendations echo the group’s longtime policy wish-list, the move is the latest signal that the oil industry will play a major role in the upcoming election, where energy has already emerged as a divisive issue.

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API President Jack Gerard cast the oil industry as a key driver of the economy, called for expanded domestic development and took aim at “overlapping and unnecessary” regulations.

“With the right leadership and the right vision, we can turn these present-day challenges into clear future opportunities that will make our country stronger for generations to come,” Gerard said at an event Tuesday during which API outlined a report to the platform committees.

Some of API’s key recommendations: dramatically expand offshore leasing to include the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic and Pacific coasts; streamline the rulemaking process for energy regulations; and immediately approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The report also rails against efforts by liberal Democrats to repeal billions of dollars in tax breaks for the largest integrated oil companies.

“Misguided proposals to further increase taxes on the industry would have the unintended and negative effect of actually reducing government revenues, jeopardizing hundreds of thousands of jobs and reducing domestic energy production,” the report said.

API has worked aggressively to make energy a top election-year issue, launching an advertising campaign in January dubbed “Vote 4 Energy.”

Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney and President Obama have sparred over energy amid high gasoline prices.

Romney has accused Obama of standing in the way of expanded energy development. Obama has dismissed the criticism, noting that his administration has worked to expand access to fossil fuels while improving vehicle fuel efficiency and promoting renewables.

While API is pressing both parties on policy, the group contributes more money to Republicans than Democrats and Gerard is a supporter of Romney.

Ben Geman contributed.

This post was updated at 10:45 a.m.