US oil and gas producers join with unions on energy policy

17 June 2009 18:17  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--US oil and gas producers said on Wednesday they have formed lobbying alliance with 15 labour unions to press Congress and the Obama administration for more access to domestic oil and gas resources.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) said it has joined with unions representing workers in the energy industry to form the oil and natural gas industry labour-management committee.

The committee’s goal is “to preserve and create jobs by promoting innovative and affordable access to energy that is vital to the American economy”, according to the group’s announcement.

The group will launch a communications campaign “to educate the public and other stakeholders about the effects of legislation that would restrict exploration or hinder processing, refining and marketing of US oil and natural gas products”.

The API and other energy industry groups have complained that policies being advanced by the administration of President Barack Obama and legislation being pursued in Congress discourage and even penalise conventional oil and gas exploration and development.

“Some proposals being advanced by various interests are not in the best interest of US energy policy and in particular not in the interest of oil and natural gas,” said API President Jack Gerard, speaking with reporters in a teleconference.

“And that is where some our interests come together [with labour unions] to educate people,” he said.  “Our role will be to go up there arm-in-arm to not only educate them on the need for energy but also for the need for job creation that comes with energy development.”

Gerard said that issues the committee will pursue with the administration and Congress include “access to our nation’s vast oil and gas reserves and tax policies that discourage energy investment in the US”.

The US petrochemical industry and downstream chemical makers also are concerned about access to domestic US energy reserves because they are heavily dependent on natural gas as a feedstock and power fuel.

Mark Ayers, president of the AFL-CIO’s building and construction trades department, said the new lobby group “will support policies that protect and promote job security and growth in the oil and natural gas industry”.

The alliance of oil and gas producers with labour unions could add weight to the energy industry’s efforts to lobby Congress. 

While the energy industry traditionally has been aligned with the more pro-business Republican Party, labour unions have close ties with the Democrat Party and could provide added influence with the White House and the Democrat majority in Congress.

In addition to the AFL-CIO, unions represented in the alliance include the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, and others representing metalworkers, bricklayers, masons and operating engineers.

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By: Joe Kamalick
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