The Obama administration is listening more attentively to the oil and gas industry in the past few months, the top White House official on energy said yesterday, after neglecting the relationship early in the president’s term.
“We probably could have been doing a lot more outreach in the beginning,” said Heather Zichal, President Obama’s deputy assistant for energy and climate change. “We have worked over the last few months to try to set a better dialogue and create a better working relationship.
“It’s been incredibly helpful,” she added, “to have their information to inform our thinking.”
Speaking to a luncheon of the American Petroleum Institute, Zichal touted the administration’s support for increased domestic production, challenging the Republican charge that the boom in drilling came despite administration policies to thwart it.
She borrowed some of the language of the oil and gas lobby, stressing the importance of oil and gas for job creation and energy security. And she joined the industry in its position that state oil and gas officials, rather than federal agencies such as U.S. EPA, should serve as the “lead regulators” of drilling.
API President Jack Gerard agreed after Zichal’s speech that the Obama administration has been more responsive to industry concerns.
“The administration’s views are clearly moving,” Gerard said. “There has been a recognition that some of the proposals they have made need to be pushed back and need to be modified because many of them were counterproductive to energy production and job creation in the country.”
Gerard, though, stressed that the industry has not made concessions to win over Obama officials.