Oil lobby pressures Obama ahead of State of the Union

Top oil lobby American Petroleum Institute (API) is pressuring President Obama on his energy policies ahead of his State of the Union address next week. 

In a national TV, radio and online ad buy launched on Thursday, the oil group will emphasize "America's new energy emergence as a global superpower," said Jack Gerard, CEO of API.

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“President Obama and the new Congress have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to capitalize on this unique American energy moment,” Gerard said on a call with reporters on Thursday.

Gerard said he expects Obama's State of the Union speech to tout his climate change agenda, a central part of Obama's legacy. 

Obama is also expected to boast the country's emergence as the No. 1 natural gas producer, which Gerard called ironic while the administration is releasing first-ever regulations on methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.

Gerard slammed Obama for the new methane regulations, and said he didn't understand why the administration choose to "single out" the natural gas industry.  

The administration unveiled the new regulations on methane emissions from new and modified oil and gas wells on Wednesday as one piece in a larger plan.

The president announced a new goal to slash methane emissions from industrial sources up to 45 percent by 2025 from 2012 levels. 

Gerard also weighed in on the ongoing debate in the Senate over the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline. 

Legislation approving construction of the project is expected to pass the Senate with 63 votes, but not before Democrats and Republicans debate the bill and amendments over the next few weeks. 

One proposed amendment from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has been met with some scrutiny from Republicans. 

Cruz is pushing a measure to repeal a decades-old ban on crude oil exports. When asked if API agreed with the move, Gerard said the oil lobby is a strong supporter of lifting the ban but is backing GOP leadership in their attempt to pass a clean bill.

"We are in mode of working with leadership," Gerard said. "There will come a time to have oil export discussion. There are lot of energy issues out there, but we agree with the current construct to keep the Keystone XL bill narrowly focused."