Oil lobby bullish on Trump, GOP Congress

Oil lobby bullish on Trump, GOP Congress
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The oil industry’s top lobbyist said companies are looking forward to a pro-oil, anti-regulation agenda from President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDems flip Wisconsin state Senate seat Sessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants GOP rep: 'Sheet metal and garbage' everywhere in Haiti MORE and the Republican-controlled Congress.

American Petroleum Institute (API) President Jack Gerard told the group's members and reporters Wednesday that Trump and lawmakers have a clear mandate to roll back major pieces of President Obama’s environmental agenda and push policies for more oil and natural gas production.

“We must reexamine the regulatory onslaught of the last few years that has proposed or imposed some 145 regulations and other executive actions on our industry,” Gerard said, adding that the regulatory structure should be “focused on the consumer, help to grow our economy, protect workers and continue to improve the environment.”

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He called for more areas to be opened for offshore drilling, better approval processes for pipelines and an overhaul or repeal of the federal ethanol mandate, among other policies.

“We support smart regulation, commonsense regulation,” Gerard said. “Many of these [regulations] are redundant, unnecessary and unnecessarily impose costs on the American consumer. So our hope is that the regulatory activity will be a top priority.”

Specific to pipelines and other infrastructure, Gerard accused Obama of ignoring the “rule of law” in his decisions, like rejecting Keystone XL and delaying the Dakota Access Pipeline, both of which Trump plans to approve quickly.

He said the most important changes for the oil industry would be to add “certainty” to the permitting process.

“When we go through these exhaustive permitting processes, and seek approval through the collaborative processes … we need to make sure, when a final decision is made, that we honor that decision,” he said. “There’s nothing more chilling to private sector investment than the unknown, or not knowing what the outcome will be and how long it might take.”

API cited polling data to argue that voters agree with their agenda, including that 80 percent of election voters support increased domestic energy production and refining, and that 77 percent support the role of natural gas in reducing emissions.

The oil industry, along with the business community as a whole, did not support Trump in the campaign as strongly as it supported other candidates in the Republican primary, or previous GOP presidential candidates.

But Gerard nonetheless is looking to Trump and Republicans to pull them out of what he characterized as a regulatory rut by Obama.

That includes repealing rules limiting methane emissions from oil and gas drilling, the Clean Power Plan, a rule on air pollution from offshore drilling and more.

But API isn’t backing everything on the GOP agenda.

A major example is last year’s House Republican blueprint for comprehensive tax reform.

It included a border “adjustment” that would tax imported products.

In 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, the United States imported 3.4 billion barrels of crude oil and refined products like gasoline, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Of that total, 2.7 billion barrels was crude oil, which refiners almost always use to make other products.

Gerard said the House GOP proposal could increase the oil industry’s costs, and defended companies’ imports.

“We are concerned about that ... we’re doing some analysis to really see what it will do and the impact it might have,” Gerard said.

“If you look at imports, particularly as it relates to energy, we add value to those as they come into the United States, particularly for crude.”

He said API has not taken a “hard position” on the matter, though it is concerned.