Oil-and-gas lobby says despite losses, election not a referendum on industry

API, which donates overwhelmingly to GOP candidates, backed unsuccessful Senate bids in competitive races in Indiana, Ohio, North Dakota, Massachusetts and Montana. And some green groups view the one winner API supported in a close race — Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) — as a potential partner.

Gerard said he was not worried about those new senators being indebted to green groups that oppose the oil-and-gas industry, saying API has “great relationships” with those incoming members.

Environmental groups took credit for those outcomes, saying their strategy to elect Senate allies indicated the public rejected the fossil-fuel industry's message.

“Mitt Romney consistently attacked President Obama for his clean-energy record, mocked him for his stance on climate change — but it didn’t work. Big polluters lost; Mitt Romney lost. Clean-energy champions won the day,” League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski said at a Wednesday news conference.

Heather Taylor-Miesle, director for the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund, said, “This election and our polling indicate a mandate for the American people on environment and health.”

That poll of 1,002 voters Nov. 4 through Nov. 6, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, showed 64 percent of voters viewed renewable energy favorably. More than 70 percent of voters also want to increase both wind and solar energy, the poll said.

Gerard keyed in on a different message, saying API polling showed a majority of Americans favor expanding domestic oil and gas production.

A Nov. 6 Harris Interactive telephone poll of 827 voters showed 73 percent want to increase oil and gas development. When asked whether boosting oil and gas production “could lead to more American jobs,” 91 percent of respondents agreed.

Gerard said that sentiment successfully shifted the debate about natural gas and oil during the presidential debates.

He credited that, and API’s multimillion-dollar “Vote for Energy” advertising campaign, for turning the presidential debates into “almost a question of who could be [the] strongest proponent” for oil and gas.

“Look at the campaign, look at the debates and look at the facts of what the American people say,” Gerard said. “I think the empirical evidence clearly shows energy was a big winner in this campaign.”

But now that Obama is assured White House residency for four more years, his green-energy promotion will likely resume.

Obama mentioned climate change in his victory speech early Wednesday morning. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Wednesday that he plans to address the issue next Congress.

The GOP-dominated House — in which many members API supported won reelection — would dim those prospects. Gerard said that while there might be a push for climate legislation, passage is unlikely.

“I seem to remember two weeks ago the discussion was about, ‘Why can’t we get people to talk about climate?’ ” Gerard said, noting that U.S. greenhouse gas emissions have already been declining.

Gerard said API is cautious about how Obama’s second-term actions will align with his campaign praise for oil and gas.

Keystone XL, which would bring Canadian oil sands to Texas refineries, is likely the litmus test for that, Gerard said. E2-Wire’s Ben Geman has more on that here.