American Petroleum Institute


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.”

In February 2017, API launched Power Past Impossible, a PR campaign that features “various unexpected ways in which consumers benefit from products derived from natural gas and oil.”  The Power Past Impossible campaign was launched with a splashy 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl, which cost an estimated $5 million.

History, Lobbying, and Funding of Fossil Fuel Think Tanks

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

According to ExxonSecrets, API has funded the Cato InstituteCitizens for a Sound Economy, and other organizations that oppose regulations aimed at combating global warming. Koch-connected organizations that have received funding from API include Americans for Prosperity, the political action group run by the Koch brothers, the Institute for Energy Research, which was founded by Charles Koch and is run by former Koch Industries lobbyist Tom Pyle.

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.”

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.

Starting in 1998, 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’”

“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.”