Oil lobby VP: 'Irresponsible' to deal with fracking at ballot box

Newly appointed vice president at prominent oil lobby American Petroleum Institute Louis Finkel says concerns over the booming hydraulic fracturing of natural gas should not be dealt with in the voting booth.

As natural gas extraction continues to grow as a lucrative enterprise in states like Colorado, Texas and New York, a number of measures have sprung up to ban the practice.


In fact, in a ruling last week New York allowed its cities and towns to ban the controversial extraction technique of fracking.

But Finkel, who was tapped by API in May and boasts a unique background as a Democratic strategist, said dealing with fracking through a ballot measure is "irresponsible."

"Public education on some of these issues is difficult because names sound scary and technology is complicated," Finkel admitted during a small briefing with reporters.

"I think these are complicated difficult issues and trying to deal with them through means of political campaigns is irresponsible. That is why we have a regulatory process, that is why we have elected officials," Finkel added.

The comments by Finkel come as API on Wednesday released new standards for oil and gas companies on how to best engage with local communities surrounding operation sites on questions they may have about hydraulic fracturing.

"It is incumbent on us to provide voters, and consumers generally in instances of ballot measures and political campaigns, the right information to make thoughtful choices," Finkel said.

Colorado is looking to place a statewide measure on the ballot this year that would allow its local governments to ban extracting natural gas through fracking.

Finkel again said if Colorado were to move forward with such a measure and require local governments to regulate and manage and inspect wells, it would be "irresponsible."

Either way, under Finkel's direction API is prepared to educate the voters if such measures continue to come up in states.

The movement against fracking in certain states also coincides with President Obama's push to promote natural gas as the "bridge fuel" to help the U.S. battle climate change.

Finkel added that API will continue to focus on Keystone XL and continue to engage the Energy Department and lawmakers on lifting the crude oil export ban.

He added that API hopes to see a "statutory change" to allow for more oil exports.

As for the industry group's concerns about the president's proposal to limit carbon pollution from existing power plants, Finkel said it doesn't like it but that lobbying against it isn't a priority.