Oil lobby fends off 2020 candidates' calls to ban fracking with new ad campaign

 BY DINO GRANDONI  washingtonpost.com

The oil and gas industry is fighting back: It's throwing in big bucks to counter attacks from Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren that it's contributing to climate change. 

The American Petroleum Institute is planning to spend upward of $1 million through 2020 on a new advertising campaign arguing that it's actually part of the solution when it comes to slowing the rise of global temperatures.

The main lobbying arm of the oil and gas industry will pour money into broadcast televisions spots, social media posts, billboards and airport placards promoting natural gas as a reason the United States is reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.

The ad blitz comes as Sanders (I-Vt.), Warren (D-Mass.) and a number of other presidential candidate have promised to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, should they win the White House. And API's message runs up against the advice of thousands of scientists who say we must keep the remaining oil and gas in the ground as the only way to forestall dangerous warming of the Earth.

A ban on fracking would be a major blow to the industry — one it is increasingly seeking to avoid amid a presidential campaign where polling shows voters are more concerned than ever about climate change. API warns that banning fracking would constitute economic self-sabotage for the United States. 

“Here's a glimpse of that vision... In the short run, a fracking ban would quickly invite a global recession,” API chief Mike Sommers told members of Congress, Trump administration officials, oil executives and labor union leaders gathered for the group's annual January luncheon in Washington on Tuesday. “You don't abolish the most dynamic asset of the world's leading energy producer without severe consequences.”

But outside economists say that and other warnings API made Tuesday are overblown. 

"I think is highly unlikely that a fracking ban in the US alone would lead to a global recession, but it could slow economic growth in the short term in the U.S. unless it is accompanied by other policies that spur growth," said Kenneth Gillingham, an economics professor at Yale's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

API points to how the gush of cheap gas from fracking over the past decade has helped shutter hundreds of coal-fired power plants as they are replaced by less-polluting, gas-fired ones. Fracking, along with horizontal drilling, are "as important as the invention the iPhone,” Sommers said.

“We have to serve the vast and growing demand for affordable energy and we have to accelerate progress on the serious challenge of climate change,” added Sommers, who once served as chief of staff for former House speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).

The API ad campaign is running nationwide, with an emphasis on oil- and gas-producing states such as New Mexico and Pennsylvania, and swing congressional districts in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and elsewhere. The lobbying group produced seven videos featuring residents from seven states it is targeting.

And in what is likely a bid to emphasize the low emissions of gas compared to coal, the ads referred to the industry as “gas and oil” rather than oil and gas.

“This is natural gas and oil,” the ads read. “This is energy progress.”

When it comes to the new marketing initiative, longtime environmental critics of the oil and gas industry see it as nothing more than an "embarrassing attempt at rebranding [that] doesn't change anything about the dirty fossil fuels API is pushing," according to Kelly Martin, director of the Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign at the Sierra Club, which promotes renewable energy sources as a solution to climate change.

Speaking to reporters before the luncheon, Sommers demurred when asked whether API would support specific emissions-reduction targets. But API did release a report in conjunction with the luncheon with hard-number claims on the economic effects of a ban on fracking. The group is saying a ban could lead to as many as 7.3 million fewer jobs.

Yet Jason Furman, a professor of economic policy at Harvard, said that although a ban on fracking would hurt economic growth, the hit would not be nearly enough to make that many people lose their jobs. 

“It's a ludicrous exaggeration of what would be a meaningful hit to the U.S. economy,” Furman said, noting that the U.S. economy shed nearly 9 million jobs economywide during the Great Recession.

He added that “it would be very hard to go from this to a global recession.”

Gillingham, the Yale economist, agreed by noting that the total employment in oil and gas extraction as of last November was 164,800 — an order of magnitude lower than the job losses API projected.

"I am very skeptical of those jobs numbers," he said for API's claim.

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Yeah, I am risking the trolls to post some news that I think is worth discussion and debate.  I request that we avoid the election politics and candidate talking points to focus on how government and industry can work together to address climate change in ways that might garner the support of a majority of Americans.   I have long faulted the O&G industry for being tone deaf to changing public opinion and not being more proactive when it comes to PR and reasonable efforts to modify their operations to recognize and address the effects of climate change.  It seems the potential dangers to their business models and a recognition that public opinion is now solidly behind climate change and ready for a debate that brings about this announcement.

I do not support banning fracking or pipelines although I strongly support rational, fact based regulation and government intervention if operating companies do not move forcefully to implement voluntary fugitive emission programs.  I also do not think the majority of Americans support banning fracking or pipelines even as they support taking action.  I have opinions and suggestions as to how a middle of the road approach might find public support.  I hope that members do also.

Skip, what many fail to see is that, until we truly have reliable alternatives, NG should be used as a bridge to totally renewable energy.

We should be using nuclear, as do many European countries. Our phobia on nuclear is based on reactors built 40-50 years ago in the US, not the more modern ones Europeans have.

What do you see as the options we have, both those that are palatable to the environment as well as economically feasible currently? And, of course, much of this will change as technology improves. 

David, I favor a market approach that recognizes the need to take concrete actions to address climate change while limiting the damage done by hydrocarbon use.  Let industry frack and build pipelines but do not subsidize them beyond most of the current tax breaks.  At the same time provide incentives to deploy renewable energy and make our energy usage more efficient (smart buildings, LED lighting, energy efficient appliances, etc). 

The days of natural gas as a sole bridge have largely passed as the exclusive means to address our emissions. Commercial scale solar is now cost competitive with natural gas fired electric generation in specific portions of the country and wind isn't far behind.  Of course not all areas are right for solar and wind at this point in their evolution.  Natural gas will cover that gap now and in the future.  As solar+storage evolves microgrids will become popular and more wide spread so residential and community sized solar projects will gain economies of scale. 

We should incentivize the move to EVs and the conversion of certain fleets to CNG/LNG (city buses, garbage trucks, short haul delivery, etc.)  This cuts into the market for oil of course but does so at a rate that is more conducive to those companies finding other energy niches to grow into.  Oil companies must move to aggressively monitor and cut methane emissions or be placed under strict government regulations to accomplish that. 

All coal fired electric generation should be phased out over a short period, maybe three to four years, with government backed low interest loans for utilities and merchant generators to replace those plants with their choice of renewable or natural gas based on economic considerations.  I think many Americans can agree that these type actions are reasonable to consider and debate and would not cause the kind of economic disruptions that hard greens always over look or the hydrocarbon industries over state. 

Of course there are more issues that I hope members will be willing to explore/discuss such as technologies that remove CO2 from the air and seas.  I think that technology niche is just now in its infancy and should be pursued but not relied on at this point.  If a comprehensive set of actions does not make the required progress over the next five to ten years than a new public debate should happen with the greater knowledge and action options that should exist by then.

I would say what needs to be done...

But I don't want to get banned...

And really am beginning to dislike those blacked out SUV's with Government plates parked down the street!!!! 

An article on a microgrid that also explores the challenges and regulations involved.


I will not get involved in political discussions on this site.  That is one of the reasons I quit posting.  My ONLY reason for being on this site is in helping landowners in NWLA.  I have no other agenda.  

Unfortunately, as helpful as Skip can be when he stays on topic, he spends a large percentage of his time trolling for political banter.  I think he has run off and/or discouraged many good posters because of this.

Maybe an off topic forum would help solve this problem.

Chopman, I try to keep politics out of the debate as much as possible but we all know that is difficult.  I think debating what is publicly acceptable for addressing climate change is over due.  And I think we can all agree that a middle of the road, common sense approach is preferred.  That being said, the decisions members make concerning their minerals should also be informed by the prospects that public opinion is shifting and things will change that may impact them.  I give the same advise to my clients as I do pro bono that those who contact me for an opinion or help.  It's the same for what I post on GHS.  Those that don't agree or don't wish to participate may act accordingly.  I get plenty of off site and private communications to know that many members appreciate the wider view and aren't put off by it.

Wow, that's a rather alarming take on Skip Peel's amazing contribution to this site. Can't handle truth? You say he is trolling? Trolling? That is ridiculous. He posts pertinent matter that is positive but also negative toward the industry and the prospects for natural gas because informed minerals owners need to know truth. And truth is not always what one wants to hear.

I don't recall Skip making political posts. But I see him posting many articles that are influenced by politics. Big difference. Now, I have seen him make some negative comments towards the Trump administration and its policies that affect oil and gas operations. About 99% of the oil biz, including many of the industry people on this site, get aggravated whenever anyone challenges Trump or his admin. And that is sickening.

And, I have never met Skip Peel.

Looking through these reply's and what is shocking is there is no descent that "Global Warming,  Climate Change" actually exists! Like it is already proven. The only thing I can prove is that it pouring rain and I felt it on my face. Next summer there may be a hot spell, have to wait and see.


The SUN is in a period of low activity

There will be members who are climate deniers and that's okay.  From what I read regarding public opinion, a decided majority of all political persuasions believe that climate change is real.  The uncertainty at this point is how severe might be the consequences be and what are reasonable responses.  I do my best to stay away from overtly political discussions/comments and would point out that there is a Politics & Off Topic Group for those members that wish to participate.  The only somewhat political comment that appears regularly in some of my posts/responses is the regret that there was so much opposition to the Clean Power Program years ago. The CPP would have accelerated the transition from coal to natural gas fired electric generation at a time when solar or wind were not considered near term alternatives. Many could not look past the fact that it was an Obama administration program to see that it was good for natural gas and did not disadvantage oil. Today the situation is quite different and the opportunity to really make a long term commitment to feature natural gas has faded.


Sadly, certain folks turn a blind eye to the POWERS THAT BE who are pandering for dirty coal. It's weird to see such people cut their own throats in the oil patch. Why they go-along-to-get-along to weaken NG and help dirty coal is beyond me. It's similar to them getting on the bandwagon to build pipelines from Canada to ship in dirty oil. I can't understand why they think more oil, i.e., why they think opening the spigots to an increase glut of NG and oil, is going to help mineral owners and landowners in Louisiana. Because it's not. It's competition to our own Louisiana oil & gas. Big Canadian pipelines into the U.S. are simply going to oversupply the market and drive the price of oil down and drive the price of NG down. It is counter to what's good for our local oil patch, which includes landmen, operators, roughnecks, truck drivers, local business owners, etc. People should really stop and think who is doing what and why. In other words, life is quite complicated these days. To really vote your pocketbook/wallet, you need to step back and ask yourself why certain big shots are pandering for your support. 



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