American Petroleum Institute

American Petroleum Institute (API)


Based in Washington DC, the American Petroleum Institute (API) is the largest trade association for the oil and gas industry, representing over 600 corporate members “from the largest major oil company to the smallest of independents, come from all segments of the industry.” The API says its mission is to “influence public policy in support of a strong, viable U.S. oil and natural gas industry.” API describes itself as “the only national trade association that represents all aspects of America’s oil and natural gas industry” [1]

API was initially established on March 20, 1919 in New York City and moved to Washington DC in late 1969. [2]

According to ExxonSecrets, API has funded the Cato InstituteCitizens for a Sound Economy, and other organizations that oppose regulations aimed at combating global warming. ExxonSecrets also lists API as a member of the National Wetlands Coalition, a group suggesting government regulation on wetlands are “burdensome and ineffective regulations on private property.” According to Sourcewatch, The National Wetlands coalition has been relatively inactive since the 1990s, but was made up of a group of about 60 municipal associations, utilities and major industrial concerns, such as Exxon, Texaco and Kerr-McGee. [40], [41] [3]

According to its website, API “speak for the oil and natural gas industry to the public, Congress and the Executive Branch, state governments and the media. We negotiate with regulatory agencies, represent the industry in legal proceedings, participate in coalitions and work in partnership with other associations to achieve our members’ public policy goals.” [1]

OpenSecrets reports that API is also heavily involved in direct lobbying on behalf of the oil and gas industry, with lobbying expenses of $7,790,000 in 2015 alone, and $9,090,000 in 2014. [4]

API Promoted “Uncertainty” about Climate Change

A 1998 Communications Plan, obtained by the New York Times and reported on at Greenpeace, suggests that API was actively working to promote “uncertainty” about climate change science and linksd to fossil fuels. According to the document, “victory will be achieved when […] Average citizens 'understand' (recognize) uncertainties in climate science; recognition of uncertainties becomes part of the 'conventional wisdom'”[5]

“Unless 'climate change' becomes a non-issue, meaning that the Kyoto proposal is defeated and there are no further initiatives to thwart the threat of climate change, there may be do moment when we can declare victory for our efforts. It will be necessary to establish measurements for the science effort to track progress toward achieving the goal and strategic success,” the document reads.

InsideClimate News reports that API also knew of climate change as early as 1982. A Columbia University report titled “Climate Models and CO2 Warming, A Selective Review and Summary” (PDFcommissioned by the institute in 1982, cautioned that global warming “can have serious consequences for man's comfort and survival.” [49][50]

API & the American Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) Merger

On November 18, 2015, the American Petroleum Institute and the American Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) announced a merger to create a “single voice promoting the industry” while working under the name of the American Petroleum Institute. ANGA was founded in 2009 and is funded by natural gas producers, and has worked against federal limits on methane emissions. [52]

OpenSecrets reports that ANGA has spent more than $15 million on lobbying activities for the oil and gas industry since 2009: [53]

Year Total Lobbying Expenditure
2015 $1,290,000
2014 $1,290,000
2013 $1,930,000
2012 $2,650,000
2011 $3,000,000
2010 $3,360,000
2009 $1,660,000
Grand Total $15,180,000

Stance on Climate Change


As of March 2016, API offered the following statement on climate change: [44]

“It is clear that climate change is a serious problem that requires research for solutions and effective policies that allow us to meet our energy needs while protecting the environment: that's why oil and gas companies are working to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. “


An archived version of the American Petroleum Institute website admits that “emissions from [energy] production and use may be helping to warm our planet by enhancing the natural greenhouse effect of the atmosphere. That’s why oil and gas companies are also working to reduce their greenhouse emissions.” [42]

A November 2015 “Climate and Energy Primer” (PDF) released by API suggests there are “uncertainties” with regards to climate change, however still suggests it is a serious problem: [43]

“While we rely on them for most of our energy and will likely do so for years to come, as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes: 
'Scientists are certain that human activities are changing the composition of the atmosphere, and that increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases will change the planet’s climate. However, they are not sure by how much it will change, at what rate it will change, or what the exact effects will be.'
Despite these uncertainties it is clear that climate change is a serious problem that requires research for solutions and effective policies that allow us to meet our energy needs while protecting the environment. That's why oil and gas companies are working to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.”


API's 1998 ”Global Climate Science Communications Plan” (PDF), reported by the New York Times and authored by the American Petroleum Institute's Joe Walker, revealed the institute's stance on climate change.

According to the plan, “victory will be achieved when”: [5]

  • Average citizens “understand” (recognize) uncertainties in climate science; recognition of uncertainties becomes part of the “conventional wisdom”
  • Media “understands” (recognizes) uncertainties in climate science
  • Media coverage reflects balance on climate science and recognition of the validity of viewpoints that challenge the current “conventional wisdom”
  • Industry senior leadership understands uncertainties in climate science, making them stronger ambassadors to those who shape climate policy
  • Those promoting the Kyoto treaty on the basis of extant science appear to be out of touch with reality.”

Under the heading “Climate Reality,” the document continues:

“Unless 'climate change' becomes a non-issue, meaning that the Kyoto proposal is defeated and there are no further initiatives to thwart the threat of climate change, there may be do moment when we can declare victory for our efforts. It will be necessary to establish measurements for the science effort to track progress toward achieving the goal and strategic success.”


InsideClimate News reports that the American Petroleum Institute knew of climate change as early as 1982: A Columbia University report titled “Climate Models and CO2 Warming, A Selective Review and Summary” (PDF) commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute in 1982, cautioned that global warming “can have serious consequences for man's comfort and survival.” [49], [50]

American Petroleum Institute Funding (As Donor)

There are 374 transactions on record for the American Petroleum Institute as a Donor in the Conservative Transparency Database. Note that not all of the following funding values have been confirmed by DeSmogBlog. [6]

View the attached spreadsheet for further details on the American Petroleum Institute's funding by year (.xlsx).

Recipient Total
Oil and Natural Gas Industry Labor Management Committee $3,597,648
National Association of Manufacturers $2,026,150
2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee $2,022,473
Coloradans for Responsible Reform $1,493,247
Independent Petroleum Association of America $1,287,356
American Chemistry Council $1,187,000
Ground Water Protection Council $1,040,800
Health Effects Institute $910,000
Business Industry Political Action Committee $775,000
State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulations $775,000
Rebuilding Together $706,812
University of Connecticut $700,531
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute $672,500
University of California Davis $622,490
Americans for Tax Reform $607,500
Business Institute for Political Analysis $525,000
Democratic Governors Association $480,000
University of Colorado $455,133
Coalition for American Jobs $412,969
American Council for Capital Formation $350,000
Consumer Energy Alliance $332,500
Republican Governors Association $305,000
America's Wetland Foundation $300,000
Energy Policy Research Foundation $300,000
Plumbers & Pipefitters $267,500
Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute $260,000
60 Plus Association $253,000
American Action Network $250,000
IHS Global $250,000
Maine Energy Marketers Association $240,000
Environmental Council of the States $223,750
The Keystone Center $220,500
Congressional Black Caucus Foundation $210,000
Coloradans for a Stable Economy $200,000
Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Forum $200,000
US Chamber of Commerce $186,500
Building and Construction Trades Department AFL-CIO $185,000
Massachusetts Institute of Technology $180,000
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation $165,500
Institute for Energy Research $160,000
Small Business and Enterpreneurship Council $150,000
Republican State Leadership Committee $150,000
Energy Equipment and Infrastracture Alliance $150,000
Americans for Prosperity $139,000
National Ocean Policy Coalition $130,000
FreedomWorks $130,000
Petroleum Association of Wyoming $130,000
Stanford University $120,000
Montana Department of Environmental Quality $117,274
University of Massachusetts Dept of Microbiology $117,000
Congressional Black Caucus Institute $115,000
American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research $110,000
Greater North Dakota Chamber of Commerce $107,193
National Foreign Trade Council $101,000
National Retail Federation $100,000
Alliance to Save Energy $100,000
National Taxpayers Union $100,000
Michigan State University $100,000
National Academy of Sciences $100,000
American Legislative Exchange Council $98,000
National Black Chamber of Commerce $97,500
University of California Berkeley $94,402
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign $93,900
North Carolina State University $93,135
100 Black Men of America $90,000
Association for Environmental Health and Sciences $86,000
US News and World Report - US News Stem Solutions $85,000
National Conference of State Legislatures $84,000
Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States $81,000
Rutgers University $80,000
George Mason University Foundation $80,000
George Mason University $80,000
Northwestern University School of Law $80,000
Capitol Hill Publishing Corp. $79,500
Clemson University $78,000
Pipeline Research Council $77,500
The Foreign Policy Group $75,000
Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute $75,000
International Conservation Caucus Foundation $75,000
Nebraska Ethanol Board $71,212
Common Ground Alliance $70,000
American Conservative Union $66,000
Offshore Energy Center $65,000
United States Association for Energy Economics $62,500
Sustainable Remediation Forum $60,000
James Madison Institute $60,000
American GI Forum of the United States $60,000
Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility $55,000
National Marine Sanctuary Foundation $52,500
Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research $52,500
University of Tulsa $52,353
University of Oklahoma $52,194
Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation $51,000
NM Association Conservative District $50,000
Texas State Society of Washington DC $50,000
American Legion $50,000
National Ocean Policy $50,000
Council of Great Lakes Governors $50,000
National Industrial Sand Association $50,000
The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences $50,000
Rice University $50,000
Michigan Chamber PAC II $50,000
Citizens Against Government Waste $50,000
National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners $50,000
National Journal Group $50,000
Nicholls State University $45,000
Politico $45,000
The Bryce Harlow Foundation $42,500
Council of State Governments $41,000
Ford's Theatre Society $40,000
American Association of Blacks in Energy $40,000
Annapolis Center for Science-Based Public Policy $40,000
Formula Sports Group $40,000
Third Way $40,000
National Conference of Black Mayors $40,000
Northwestern University $40,000
Saj Media (Greater Wilmington Business Journal) $40,000
A Wider Circle $40,000
Consensus Building Institute $40,000
American National Standards Institute (ANSI) $39,951
University of Rochester $38,695
Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association $37,500
Washington Humane Society $37,500
American Council on Science and Health $37,500
University of New Hampshire $36,000
Wright State University $35,000
Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment $35,000
Coordinating Research Council $35,000
Western Governors' Association $35,000
Friends of New Orleans $35,000
University of Houston - Clear Lake $34,000
Federal Water Quality Coalition (Barnes & Thornburg) $31,000
Conservative Political Action Conference $31,000
Washington Press Club Foundation $30,285
Virginia Chamber of Commerce $30,000
NALEO Educational Fund $30,000
Girl Scout Council of the Nation's Capital $30,000
University of California $30,000
Coastal America Foundation $30,000
Fund for Peace $30,000
Taxpayers for Common Sense $30,000
Western Michigan University $28,000
North Carolina Agricultural Foundation $28,000
Citizens to Protect Pennsylvania $26,000
American Tort Reform Association $25,100
University of Vermont $25,000
Bloomberg Finance LP $25,000
The Ripon Society $25,000
Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers $25,000
American Highway Users Alliance $25,000
Southern Christian Leadership Conference $25,000
Consortium of Catholic Academies of the Archdiocese of Washington $25,000
Southern Republican Leadership Conference South Carolina $25,000
Mercatus Center $25,000
FTI Consulting $25,000
Jefferson Island Club $25,000
Hispanic Alliance for Prosperity Institute $25,000
Heartland Institute $25,000
National Association of Hispanic Publications $25,000
Hispanic Alliance for Progress Institute $25,000
Competitive Enterprise Institute $25,000
Western Business Roundtable $25,000
National Association of Wholesaler Distributors (LIFO Coalition) $25,000
Arizona State University $25,000
Battelle Memorial Institute $25,000
Tread Lightly Inc. $25,000
American Forest and Paper Association $21,700
Nebraska Ethanol Industry Coalition $20,212
Western States Air Resources Council $20,000
Carbon Sequestration Council $20,000
Illinois AFL-CIO $20,000
Fight For Children $20,000
Fund for American Studies $20,000
HM&C Center Stage LLC $20,000
March of Dimes Maryland?National Capital Area Chapter $20,000
Boy Scouts of America $20,000
Boy Scouts of America - National Capital Area Council $20,000
Mahoning County Democratic Party $17,500
American Institute of Chemical Engineers $17,500
North American Metals Council $17,000
Everybody Wins! DC $16,400
Foreign Policy Association $15,000
The Tax Foundation $15,000
New York Academy of Sciences $15,000
US Conference of Mayors $15,000
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars $15,000
The National Center for American Indian Enterprise $15,000
Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania $15,000
Flag Credit Union $15,000
The Corbett Cawley Inaugural Committee $15,000
Nevada State AFL-CIO $15,000
NCLS Foundation for State Legislatures $15,000
National Board of Professional Teaching Standards $15,000
Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry Education Foundation $12,500
Radio Television Digital News Association $12,000
Public Lands Advocacy $11,000
Center for Legislative Energy and Environmental Research $10,785
New Mexico Community Capital $10,000
Foundation to Eradicate Duchenne $10,000
Montana Economic Developers Association $10,000
Republican Governors Public Policy Committee $10,000
Freedom Foundation of Minnesota $10,000
A Better Missouri Nixon for Governor $10,000
Council of State Chambers (COSC) $10,000
National Association of Black Journalists $10,000
Ohioans For Change $10,000
National Association of Energy Officials $10,000
National Urban League $10,000
Federal Recycling and Remediation Coalition (Barnes & Thornburg) $10,000
Committee for Economic Development $10,000
California Climate Action Registry $10,000
Kasich-Taylor New Day Inaugural Committee $10,000
Centennial Institute $10,000
University of Texas at Arlington $10,000
Alzheimer's Association $10,000
Volta Live Inc. $10,000
Stop Oil Seeps California $10,000
Gulf of Mexico Alliance $10,000
Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation $10,000
Institute for Policy Innovation $10,000
National Chamber Foundation $10,000
United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce $10,000
Center for Excellence in Education $10,000
Colorado State University $10,000
Texas Oil and Gas Association $10,000
Jobs for America's Graduates $10,000
Hydrogen Sulfide Coalition $10,000
Junior League of Raleigh $10,000
National Endangered Species Act Reform Coalition $10,000
Canadian Club of Chicago $10,000
Abate of Illinois $10,000
Community Leaders of America $10,000
Citizens for Sound Conservation $10,000
March of Dimes Foundation $10,000
Diabetes Research Institute Foundation $10,000
Ohio Democratic Party $10,000
Conference Group $10,000
The Horinko Group $10,000
Virginia Sustainable Building Network $10,000
National Foundation for Women Legislators $10,000
Ohio Republican Party $10,000
Illinois Institute of Technology $10,000
Congressional Award Foundation $10,000
Alliance for Consumer Education $10,000
Indiana Works $10,000
Foundation for American Communications $10,000
Bryce Harlow Foundation $7,500
New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance $7,500
Missouri Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association $7,500
Rockwood Labor Club $7,500
Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Foundation $7,500
Climate Action Reserves $7,500
Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs $6,511
University of Texas at Austin $6,500
Hart Energy Publishing LLP $6,500
Waterfall Foundation $6,000
San Antonio Hispanic Chamber $6,000
Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors $6,000
American Society for Testing and Materials $6,000
Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry $5,333
Utilities Telecom Council $5,100
Aspen Institute $5,000
National Association of Neighborhoods $5,000
National Conference of State Societies $5,000
Meridian International $5,000
Hispanic College Fund $5,000
Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies $5,000
Grand Total $33,796,094

Past Leadership


February 22 - 25, 2017

The American Petroleum Institute was a Pn Exhibitor at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), among a range of other conservative and pro-industry groups. [61]

February 5, 2017

API launched a new advertising campaign called Power Past Impossible to tout the uses of oil and natural gas. They released one of their ads during Super Bowl 51 (see video below).  According to The Hill, API estimated that the ad would have reached an estimated 110 million people. [60]

API plans to run the ad for several years in different media. They also launched a website,, as part of their campaign. 

Power Past Impossible is the next step in API’s long-running effort to create energy awareness,” API's president, Jack Gerard, told reporters. [60]

The Power Past Impossible campaign features a few of the countless products and technological advances made possible from natural gas and oil, from life-saving medical devices to cosmetics to drug stores, from plastics in our toys to cell phones to 3D printers,” Gerard said. [60]

The Hill reported that Gerard said that while deregulation wasn't the primary focus of the campaign, it tied in nicely. 

Those regulatory burdens, when they’re unnecessary or duplicative, add costs that make us less competitive,” he said.[60]

We support appropriate regulation. We believe regulation has a role. What we need to do is fix it so it’s smart, commonsense regulation.” [60]

The API campaign also features a number of additional videos on a Power Past Impossible YouTube channel[60]

June 8, 2016

API Director of Upstream and Industry Operations Erik Milito claimed that government reports have already proven hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to be safe. Milito points to an EPA report that, while it did conclude that fracking could potentially impact drinking water, had also said it did not find “evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.” [54]

“Hydraulic fracturing is being done safely under the strong environmental stewardship of state regulators and industry best practices,” Milito said. “Yet, since releasing the report, the EPA continues to face a barrage of politically based attacks attempting to tamper with scientific conclusions.” [54]

Notably, the EPA report that Milito links to includes a prominent notice which describes it as a “draft report,” of which peer review would begin in the first quarter of 2015. [55], [56]

“This assessment provides a review and synthesis of available information concerning the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas on drinking water resources in the United States. This is a draft report that has been made available for public comment and shared with the EPA Science Advisory Board for expert peer review.” [55]

June, 2016

The American Petroleum Institute (API) was among organizations named in a Massachusetts subpoena looking for communications between ExxonMobil and organizations denying climate change, reports The Washington Times. [58]

Organizations named in the Massachusetts subpoena include the following: [58]

This latest inquiry by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is one in a series of investigations into what ExxonMobil knew about climate change and when, started by a coalition of attorneys general in the US. [59] 

May 23, 2016

The American Petroleum Institute released a statement celebrating the passage of the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in the U.S. House of Representatives which would revise Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export provisions. [57]

U.S. LNG exports will create American jobs, significantly strengthen the global energy marketplace, and bolster our strategic alliances,” API Executive Vice President Louis Finkel said. “Today’s action by the U.S. House of Representatives to approve LNG exports provisions as part of the defense authorization bill further cements the critical role U.S. energy plays at home and abroad.

It’s time for our nation to fully embrace the vast economic and geopolitical opportunities unleashed by the energy renaissance. U.S. LNG exports ensure that consumers across the globe have access to stable, diverse energy supplies, protect America’s role as a global energy leader, further enhance national security in the homeland and help our allies break dependence on nations that use their energy resources as a political weapon.” [57]

March, 2016

A group of 21 kids and teenagers (including those as young as eight years old) are suing the US government and the fossil fuel industry over climate inaction, appearing in an Oregon courtroom on March 9. [47], [48]

“It may sound like a long shot, but fossil fuel industry groups are taking the lawsuit seriously,”The Nation writes. [47]

In November, lobbyists representing ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, Koch Industries, and energy companies petitioned the judge for permission to join the case alongside the government: The American Petroleum Institute, the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, and the National Association of Manufacturers. The groups called the case “extraordinary,” and asked the court to dismiss the case.  [47][48]

Among those suing the US government:

“Nathaniel, a teenager from Fairbanks whose asthma has worsened with the wildfires that now sweep across Alaska each summer; Alex, whose family farm in Oregon has been parched by record heat waves and drought; Journey, a member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe living in Hawaii, whose family fled from flooding in 2012; and Levi, an 8 year old who lives on a low-lying barrier island in Florida that is already grappling with sea level rise.” [47]

July, 2015

The American Petroleum Institute has pushed to remove the crude oil export ban in the U.S. Jack Gerard, API President and CEO, said in a press conference “blocking trade in crude oil harms consumers when they fill up, it harms the economy, it inflates the trade deficit, it limits job creation, and it undermines America’s ability to protect our allies.”

The conference also featured EnCana Corporation President and CEO Doug Suttles, who they reported would be giving a “firsthand account of the North American Energy renaissance and why allowing crude exports is imperative to continuing our momentum.” [14]
The Congress Blog reports just a few risks of lifting the ban, including a huge increase in dangerous rail traffic: [15]
“[T]he hazardous increases in oil production that could come with the removal or weakening of the crude export ban presents much greater dangers that simply cannot be ignored. Everyday, dangerous fracking wells, sprawling rail lines carrying so-called 'bomb trains' and a network of leaking pipelines threaten our communities with spills and explosions with far-too-frequent regularity. If the highest estimates of increased oil production are realized, eliminating the crude oil export ban could lead to as much as a doubling of crude-by-rail traffic from today’s already perilous levels.”

May, 2015

As of July, 2015, there had been six accidents involving oil trains where tank cars derailed and were punctured and oil was spilled since the beginning of the year. In the first five, there were also fires and explosions. [16]
All six oil train derailments involved new 1232 model train cars that the American Petroleum Institute is suing to keep on the tracks longer than existing timelines presented in the new oil-by-rail regulations. [17]
As reported in the New York Times, API has “long argued that forcing oil producers and shippers to use newer tank cars and replace older models would impose high costs on the industry and lead to a shortfall in tank car capacity.”
Their petition would challenge the government's timeline to upgrade/retrofit older tank cars with newer safety features to prevent spills and derailments in the future. It also challenges a requirement that tank cars be equipped with new electronic braking systems or be faced with operational restrictions. 

February, 2015

The American Petroleum Institute released an updated “Primer” (PDF) on Hydraulic Fracturing, bearing the same title as their previous reports (“Hydraulic Fracturing: Unlocking America's Natural Gas Resources”). According to the report, Fracturing is “largely responsible for changing America’s energy narrative from one of limited options to one of nearly limitless plenty.”

API makes the claim that “There are zero confirmed cases of groundwater contamination” due to hydraulic fracturing. They also divert blame of earthquakes caused by fracturing, citing studies that found it was “impossible to say with a high degree of certainty whether or not these earthquakes were triggered by natural means or by the nearby hydraulic-fracturing operation.” According to API, Fracturing is a “Safe, proven technology.”

Since the API's Report, the Environmental Protection Agency has released a long-awaited draft of its assessment of fracking's impact on drinking water. The EPA fracking assessment found that fracking indeed contaminates drinking water: “From our assessment, we conclude there are above and below ground mechanisms by which hydraulic fracturing activities have the potential to impact drinking water resources,” the EPA wrote. [18]

October, 2013

API launched a campaign in South Portland with the goal of influencing a referendum to ban tar sands in the area. The referendum was the result of local activists gathering almost 4,000 signatures in their city of about 25,000 to get the issue on the ballot.

API backed a professionally run public relations, voter outreach and get-out-the-vote effort to urge citizens to vote against the referendum. In mailings and open letters to the residents of South Portland, the campaign claimed that there were no plans to bring tar sands to South Portland. [19] 
One stated (emphasis added):
“Some of you may be concerned about tar sands, which may have prompted you to sign a Waterfront Protection Ordinance petition. But the ordinance is not about tar sands.”
In addition to suggesting the referendum was unrelated to tar sands, they claimed the ordinance would shut down the port’s existing oil operations and cost local people their jobs.
According to a June, 2014 report by the Environment Maine Research and Policy Centre titled “Inside the Big Oil Playbook: (PDF) the API spent over $750,000 to defeat the ballot measure (which was defeated by fewer than 200 votes). [20], [21]

December 16, 2011

Jack Gerard spoke at a press briefing teleconference on oil sands where he criticized President Obama's decision to delay the Keystone XL project.

He claimed that Obama's decision was “driven by politics” and that environmental studies had already found that there would be “no significant impacts' on the environment” by the pipeline. [22]

July 19, 2010

The API released a “primer” (PDF) on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) that concludes (based on two studies) that there has been “no instance of groundwater contamination from hydraulic fracturing,” and that there were “no significant environmental risks as a result of proper hydraulic fracturing.” [23]

DeSmogBlog investigated the environmental impacts of fracking and came to a different conclusion: It is becoming increasingly clear that the unconventional gas boom is happening too fast, too recklessly and with insufficient concern for the potential cumulative impacts on our most critical resources – clean air, safe drinking water and a stable climate.

API spent $1.9 million in the third quarter to lobby the federal government on hydraulic fracturing as well as other issues including offshore oil drilling, and clean water and air standards. [24]

August 2009

The API led a coalition called “Energy Citizens” and planned to hold rallies opposing the Waxman-Markey Climate Bill, targeting states “whose Democratic Senators aren't strong supporters of a stringent bill, such … Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Mark Begich of Alaska.” [25]

According to Newsweek, API asked regional companies to urge their employees to participate in planned protests. A leaked memo revealed that “The objective of these rallies is to put a human face on the impacts of unsound energy policy and to aim a loud message at [20 different] states.” [26]

“Energy Citizens” is also supported by the National Association of Manufacturers, American Farm Bureau, American Highway Users Alliance, National Black Chamber of Commerce, Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, FreedomWorks, American Conservative Union, Americans for Tax Reform, and Council for Citizens Against Government Waste. [27]

According to O'Dwyer's Magazine, in a February 2010 article titled “The Politics of Climate Change,”

“The group has loudly protested the EPA’s decision to have greenhouse gas emissions regulated under the Clean Air Act. API members include Chevron, ConocoPhillips,Exxon Mobil, GE, Halliburton and Shell.” [28]

Template fliers for the “Energy Citizens” rallies warned that “Climate change legislation being considered in Washington will cause huge economic pain and produce little environmental gain.” They additionally claimed the Waxman-Markey Climate Bill would “cost 2 million American jobs, raise gasoline and diesel prices up to $4.”

The EPA estimated the bill would cost U.S. households “about a postage stamp a day,” while the Energy Information Administration projected annual “energy bill costs could rise between $26 per household to $362 by 2020.” [29]

April 2009

API sent a letter to members of Congress critical of the Obama administration:

“The US oil and natural gas industry has the expertise and technology to produce the energy we need to fuel economic growth, create jobs, generate significant revenues for local, state and federal governments, and bolster our national security. However, our companies cannot do so if held back by harmful, counter-productive taxes and are restricted from access to domestic oil and natural gas resources that the country urgently needs. … If imposed, these taxes and fees could have a debilitating effect on our economy, when our nation can least afford it. They would reduce investment in new energy supplies, meaning less energy produced for American consumers. We cannot tax our way out of our energy problems.” [30]

April 20, 2009

API protested the Environmental Protection Agency's finding that greenhouse gas emissions endangered public health and could be regulated under the Clean Air Act.

Jack Gerard of API concluded that “The Clean Air Act was created to address local and regional air pollution, not the emission of carbon dioxide and other global greenhouse gases,” as reported in the Oil & Gas Journal [31]

November, 2008

In response to the November 2008 election of Barack Obama as President and Joe Biden as Vice-president, API released a statement in the name of their CEO, Jack Gerard, saying:

“The American people have spoken loud and clear that they want politicians to put aside partisan bickering… . The oil and natural gas industry stands ready to help put America's vast energy resources to good use, strengthening our nation's economy and energy security, and providing good jobs for Americans across the country.” [32]

Gerard earlier criticized Obama's platform, saying “Obama's plan to impose a windfall-profits tax on oil companies would harm one of the few industries that are thriving” in the economic crisis. [33], [39]

January 31, 2003

API partially funded a controversial paper (PDF) authored by climate change skeptics Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas that comes to the conclusion that the climate hasn't changed in the last 2000 years. [34]

The study, published in Energy & Environment, notes that many parts of the world showed medieval warming that exceeded the warming observed in the 20th century. [35]

March 21, 2002

The API produced a 16-minute video titled “Fuel-less: you can't be cool without fuel,” which was distributed through the National Science Teachers Association. The film starts with the line “you're not going to believe this, but everything everything I have that's really cool comes from oil!”

The video is also available on the API-owned website The website describes its aim as to provide teachers and students with materials on “the vital role of oil and natural gas in modern life.” [36] According to a WHOIS lookup, the domain for Classroom Energy was registered by the American Petroleum Institute on March 21, 2002.

An API memo leaked to the media in 1998 explained API's plan to target schools:
“Informing teachers/students about uncertainties in climate science will begin to erect barriers against further efforts to impose Kyoto-like measures in the future.” [37]

Early 1998

As reported by the New York Times, the American Petroleum Institute developed a communications plan to challenge climate change science. A small group met including representatives from Exxonmobil, Chevron, the Southern Company (a large US coal company), the American Petroleum Institute and others from a variety of conservative think tanks including the George C Marshall Institute, Frontiers of Freedom, the Advancement of Sound Science Coalition and the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow — Many of which have received significant funding from the fossil fuel industry. [38]
The plan they drew up, leaked to Greenpeace (view documents here), proposed:
‘…a national media relations programme to inform the media about uncertainties in climate science; to generate national, regional and local media on the scientific uncertainties and thereby educate and inform the public, stimulating them to raise questions with policymakers.’ The plan would roll out up to and beyond the UNFCCC meeting (COP4) later that year in Buenos Aires.
According to the plan, “Victory will be achieved” when:
  • “Average citizens understand (recognize) uncertainties in climate science; recognition of uncertainties
  • becomes part of the ‘conventional wisdom’
  • Media 'understands (recognizes) uncertainties in climate science
  • Those promoting the Kyoto treaty on the basis of extant science appear to be out of touch with reality.”
Part of the strategy was to co-ordinate “a complete scientific critique of the IPCC research and its conclusions” and to enable decision makers to raise “such serious questions about the Kyoto treaty’s scientific underpinnings that American policy makers not only will refuse to endorse it, they will seek to prevent progress towards implementation at the Buenos Aires meeting in November, or through other way.”
They would also recruit and train five “independent scientists,” described as “new faces… without a long history of visibility in the climate debate” who would participate in media outreach with the aim to “maximise the impact of scientific views consistent with ours, with Congress, the media and other key audiences” as well as specifically targeting students and teachers in order to “erect a barrier against further efforts to impose Kyoto-like measures in the future.” 

American Petroleum Institute Contact & Location

The address and phone number for the American Petroleum Institute (API) was as follows as of May, 2016: [51]

1220 L Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20005-4070

Phone 202-682-8000

Related Organizations

Virginia Energy Citizens

The American Petroleum Institute (API) is a sponsor of Virginia Energy Citizens, a group describing itself as a grassroots coalition.

Virginia Energy Citizens' state coordinator Miles Morin attended the July 2015 meeting of the Northern Virginia Tea Party where he was originally billed as speaking on how “the radical environmental movement poses a serious threat to our freedoms, our property.” The online initiation was later revised to read how Morin would speak on how to tell “local, state and federal officials why you support pro-energy policies.” [13]

Craig Holman, the government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, a Washington-based watchdog group, described API's relationship with Virginia Energy Citizens. He says lobbyists and paid consultants are now not only shaping public opinion with advertising, but also attended meetings and passing themselves off as grassroots activists (a “new” strategy): 

“That's clearly deceptive,” Holman said. “Not only are they trying to deceive the Tea Party activists, they'll also be deceiving Congress at the same time.”  [13]

Classroom Energy!

Website run by API to inform teachers and students of the “vital role of oil and natural gas in modern life.”

API Members

The American Petroleum Institute's members include major oil, gas, and coal companies: [46]


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  16. Justin Mikulka. “Most Recent Oil Train Accidents and Spills Involved ‘Safer’ CPC-1232 Tank Cars,” DeSmogBlog, July 23, 2015.

  17. Jad Mouawad. “Oil Industry Asks Court to Block Rail Transport Safety Rules,” May 12, 2015. 

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