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Jack Gerard's remarks at press briefing teleconference on Keystone XL

As prepared for delivery

Press briefing teleconference on Keystone XL 
Jack Gerard
January 15, 2015

Opening statement:
Good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining me today. Next week the president will provide his annual State of the Union message, and many of you perhaps have reviewed our own vision of the State of American Energy. What’s left is to consider the areas where we will be able to work with the administration and the new Congress to make our energy vision a reality.

Next week, API will launch a new national ad emphasizing America’s emergence as an energy superpower. The new ad is part of API’s energy literacy campaign designed to highlight America’s game-changing energy renaissance. The United States is the world’s leading natural gas producer, and we should soon surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s number one oil producer. It’s a remarkable transformation that requires a new way of thinking about American energy policy.

The transition from 20th century energy scarcity to 21st century energy abundance has created millions of jobs, generated billions in tax revenue, and spurred a manufacturing renaissance. It also presents a historic opportunity to achieve a level of energy security unthinkable just a few years ago. We can already see signs of America’s growing energy security. Net petroleum imports are at their lowest levels in decades, and gas prices have reached near six-year lows. If not for domestic production increases, crude oil could cost at least $150 a barrel because of supply disruptions in the Middle East and North Africa, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The American people understand that energy is inseparable from economic growth and job creation. In an election night poll of midterm voters, 90 percent agreed that increased production of domestic oil and natural gas resources could lead to more U.S. jobs, and 86 percent recognize it stimulates our economy. Voters of all parties are prepared to hold lawmakers accountable for getting energy policy wrong. Sixty-six percent of voters said they are more likely to support a candidate who supports producing more oil and natural gas, including 55 percent of Democrats and 82 percent of Republicans.

If history is any guide, President Obama’s State of the Union address will include a mix of rhetoric claiming credit for energy achievements with a list of policy proposals that would actually undermine them. But what we really need are policies based on facts. Instead of being the party of “science,” this administration has let politics decide far too many energy policies.

Yesterday’s announcement of new regulations on methane emissions from the oil and natural gas industry is case-in-point number one.

The facts on methane demonstrate that new regulations are not necessary. A recent EPA study found that methane emissions from hydraulic fracturing natural gas wells have fallen by 73 percent since 2011 even while energy production increased significantly. A 2014 University of Texas study found that methane emissions are 10 percent lower than what the same research team found in a study released in September 2013.

The White House knows this and still chose to move forward yesterday with new regulations that single out oil and natural gas production, which accounts for only 2 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. Existing regulations and technological innovations by the oil and natural gas industry are working, and emissions will continue to fall as operators innovate and find new ways to capture and deliver more methane to consumers. Implementing duplicative new regulations would only undermine dramatic reductions in CO2 emissions made possible by an abundant and affordable domestic supply of clean-burning natural gas while discouraging energy development that is the foundation of the American energy revolution.

The White House will shortly have another opportunity to show it is willing lead on energy, based on facts over politics, when the Senate passes the Keystone XL pipeline bill. Facts established by the president’s own State Department support building Keystone XL.

The Keystone XL legislation under Senate consideration will be one of the most bipartisan bills to reach the president’s desk in years. After five positive environmental assessments through six years of exhaustive review, plus his own repeated calls for infrastructure investment, President Obama has no justification to veto the middle class jobs and energy security advances Keystone XL will deliver, and last week the Nebraska Supreme Court removed the last remaining excuse. It’s well past time for the government to stop delaying a process that should have taken 18 to 24 months and let the market work.

The fact of our current energy abundance points toward moving beyond scarcity-based policies of the past, like the obsolete crude export ban, the limiting approach to liquefied natural gas exports, and the unworkable Renewable Fuel Standard.

President Obama and the new Congress have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to capitalize on this unique American energy moment. With a clear pro-energy mandate from the American people, this should be the year that energy policy catches up with America’s status as an energy superpower.

We look forward to hearing his State of the Union address and can only hope it will embrace the energy renaissance made possible by the U.S. oil and natural gas industry – one of the brightest opportunities the Union has.