Elizabeth Pines: Trade Associations and Their Influence

Due to the heavily regulated nature of the oil and gas industry, many companies ally themselves with trade associations that participate in the political and legislative process to influence laws and regulations. Trade associations range from national to regional and have various degrees of leverage and power. The American Petroleum Institute (API) is the only national trade association that represents all of the activities in the oil and gas industry (About API). Based in Washington D.C., API currently has approximately 400 members from all activities in the oil and gas industry. API is actively involved in lobbying and politics and spent over $9.3 million in 2013 lobbying (Center for Responsive Politics). About 70% of API’s campaign contributions go to Republican candidates, and not all political contributions relate to fracking or other oil and gas interests. API has donated to several tax organizations, including the Sixty Plus Association, which desires to end the estate tax, and Americans for Tax Reform, which seeks to lower taxes (Mufson, 2012).

While API is the largest trade association, a number of smaller organizations prove to be just as vital to the oil and gas industry. The Marcellus Shale Coalition is powerful in the Pennsylvania region. With 40 energy companies as members, including Range Resources and Chesapeake Energy, the Marcellus Shale Coalition works on behalf of these companies to “influence drilling-related legislation, stage conferences and educational events on gas extraction, and represent the industry in the press” (Colaneri, 2014). The Marcellus Shale Coalition also provides educational resources and information about several natural gas topics, including land leasing, exploration, drilling, and site restoration. Although the Marcellus Shale Coalition is not as nationally known as the API, the coalition still participates in the political process, with lobbying spending of $90,000 since the beginning of 2014 (Center for Responsive Politics, Marcellus Shale Coalition). The company’s lobbying issues all relate to the development of natural gas.