Leadership

An Unlikely Ally: Oil Industry Group Tips Hat to Renewables

By / Jan 9, 2015 (iStock/Thinkstock)

The American Petroleum Institute’s latest State of American Energy report goes beyond the fossil-fuel fundamentals. The report gives significant space to wind, solar, and other energy sources—complete with the help of organizations in those sectors.

For a report published by the oil industry’s leading trade group, the 2015 “State of American Energy” report [PDF] sure gives a lot of attention to alternative fuel sources.

In fact, about 40 percent of the American Petroleum Institute’s 50-page report covers energy types as diverse as solar, wind, nuclear, geothermal, hydropower, and even biomass. Associations that represent each of these sectors, such as the Nuclear Energy Institute, the National Hydropower Association, and the Biomass Power Association, get a chance to make the case for their respective industries in the API report.

This is an important development. It’s a clear recognition by the oil and gas industry that solar is now a mainstream energy source and an important part of America’s energy future.

It’s an unexpected move for an association that once got into a virtual pumpkin-carving contest with the Department of Energy after the agency slighted the oil industry in a series of jack-o’-lantern stencils. (Seriously, this happened.)

But API says recognizing the role of alternative fuels in America’s energy ecosystem makes sense within its overall mission.

“Rather than focus solely on the oil and natural gas industry, API this year is pleased to partner with organizations representing various energy sectors to highlight the contributions of each toward America’s current and future economic well-being, and collectively stress the importance of adopting a lasting ‘all of the above’ energy strategy,” API’s president and CEO, Jack Gerard, wrote in the report’s introduction.

The strategy was welcomed by many of the associations that took part, including the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

“This is an important development. It’s a clear recognition by the oil and gas industry that solar is now a mainstream energy source and an important part of America’s energy future,” SEIA Vice President of Communications Ken Johnson told the ECOreport.

AWEA noted the contrast between API’s 2014 report [PDF] and this year’s edition.

“API, in its annual State of American Energy report, included an entire section on wind written by the American Wind Energy Association,” AWEA’s Shauna Theel wrote on the association’s blog. “In contrast, API’s 2014 State of American Energy report did not mention ‘wind’ once.”

Gerard said this shift was by design: The goal of the 2015 report is to show the great diversity of energy options the U.S. has to offer.

“Energy is inseparable from America’s economic growth and job creation, upon which rests a thriving quality of life and secure future for generations to come,” Gerard wrote. “The constant pursuit of innovation, driven by both robust competition and entrepreneurial spirit, has enabled the United States to safely develop a spectrum of energy resources.”

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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