American Petroleum Institute (API)

InfluenceMap Score
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Organisation Score
Washington DC, United States
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Climate Lobbying Overview: The American Petroleum Institute (API) is broadly hostile to climate policy in the US. Since 2016, the association has actively pushed a deregulatory agenda over ambitious climate action and continues to obstruct measures to transition the energy mix in line with IPCC recommendations.

Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: The API has largely negative top-line messaging on climate policy. The association’s January 2021 State of American Energy report vaguely refers to global climate goals as “aggressive” without taking a clear position on limiting temperature rise in line with IPCC recommendations. In March 2021, Fox Business reported on the API’s new position supporting carbon pricing as “the primary government climate policy instrument to reduce CO2 emissions” while still opposing other "prescriptive regulatory action." Previous comments from API CEO Mike Sommers in December 2020 also suggest that government regulation to respond to climate change is unnecessary. In his keynote speech for the January 2021 State of American Energy address, Sommers said that 'mandates get us nowhere', and warned against the threat of climate regulations and restrictions to fossil fuel development to COVID-19 recovery. In a press release from April 2021, CEO Mike Sommers stated general support for the ambitions of the Paris Agreement without taking a clear position on the country’s new Nationally Determined Contribution to the agreement.

Engagement with Climate-Related Policy: The American Petroleum Institute appears strongly opposed to specific climate-related policies, including carbon taxes, renewable standards, and GHG emissions regulation. Despite an apparent shift in March 2021, the API’s position supporting carbon pricing stopped short of explicitly endorsing a carbon tax. In July 2021, prior to negotiations over the budget reconciliation bill, the API opposed the methane fee (a form of carbon tax policy) likely to be included in the bill, as reported by E&E News. In September 2021, the API coordinated with other oil and gas industry groups to send a joint letter to the Committee on Environment and Public Works opposing the Methane Emissions Reduction Act of 2021, which laid out the structure for the methane fee to be incorporated into the future budget bill.

Until January 2021, the API appeared to strongly oppose regulation of methane emissions. E&E News reported on API’s meetings with policymakers in August 2020 during which the group supported the rollback of methane regulations. In the first quarter of 2020, in comments submitted to the EPA, the API appeared to oppose more ambitious oil well bonding policy that would require industry to commit more money to fix methane leaks from abandoned wells. However, in a January 2021 blog post, the API reversed its position and stated support for the direct regulation of methane. The shift followed Total S.A’s decision to revoke its membership to the API that same month. Despite top-line support, in May 2021, the API commented with a cautious position on the implementation of methane regulation under the PIPES Act, stating in a submission to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration that "stringent regulatory mandates... must consider the cost to ratepayers and the ability of utilities to effectively comply."

The API has been particularly active in its opposition to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The group called for repeal of the RFS in January 2021. It tweeted in April 2020 that “it is time to get rid of this broken mandate,” and in November 2019, directly advocated against the EPA’s proposed increases in biofuel blending requirements under the program. While the group appears largely active at the federal level, it also lobbies with negative positions on state policy. In March and April 2021, API representatives appeared as witnesses in opposition to Florida's House Bill 839, which aimed to prohibit local authorities from banning the construction of fuel retailers & related transportation infrastructure, such as gas stations, and from requiring fuel retailers to install or invest in particular fueling infrastructure. In April 2021, it also testified in opposition to Colorado Bill SB-200, which would have mandated GHG emissions reductions.

Positioning on Energy Transition: The API does not appear to support the transition of the energy mix in line with IPCC scenarios for 1.5C. The “Climate Action Framework” published on its website in March 2021 suggests support for an increase in fossil gas in the energy mix. In its “Climate Action Framework” published on its website in March 2021, the group advocated for fossil gas to be included in the proposed federal Clean Energy Standard (CES); later, in September 2021, it tweeted opposition to the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) contained in the US reconciliation bill, which evolved from the previously proposed CES. In its 2021 State of American Energy Report, the API argues against a ban on fracking and opposes restrictions on federal waters and land for oil and gas production. That report also supports the weakening of the National Environmental Policy Act and the renewal of the Nationwide Permit 12 program, both of which appear to make permitting approval processes for oil and gas infrastructure quicker and easier. In June 2021, reported on the API’s statement strongly opposing President Biden’s decision to halt oil and gas production in the Arctic. In April 2021, the New York Times reported on the group’s comments at a Congressional Hearing questioning the existence of fossil fuel “subsidies,” which it argues are “common tools” that allow businesses to grow.

The API does not appear to support the electrification of transport. In its 2021 State of American Energy report, the group opposed policies designed to incentivize the uptake of electric vehicles, arguing that subsidies, credits, and sales mandates that favor electric vehicles - like those in California - would “hinder America’s progress.” In the first half of 2020, the API launched the Transportation Fairness Alliance, a coalition described by Desmog as intended “to counter policies designed to accelerate the transition away from petroleum-powered transportation.” It has also opposed specific policies to encourage the electrification of transport. For example, in July 2020, it appears to have lobbied against a proposed federal rebate for drivers who trade in ICE vehicles for EVs as well as state and federal incentives for electric vehicles, as reported by the Washington Post and Inside Climate News, respectively.

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