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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The American Petroleum Institute is launching a digital ad barrage in the closing weeks of the election that promotes natural gas and industry access to drilling in areas Joe Biden would place off-limits.

Why it matters: API is the industry's most powerful lobbying group. The seven-figure buy shows how the industry sees the threat from Democratic climate proposals — including a ban on new oil-and-gas leases on federal lands.

How it works: The group is launching several 30-second spots in battleground states including Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, and Minnesota.

  • While the four spots don't discuss the election directly, the industry's political giving goes predominantly to the GOP, per Federal Election Commission data analyzed by the nonprofit Open Secrets.

What they're saying: One of the spots calls the leasing ban (which Biden has proposed, though he's not named) an "extreme" proposal that would cost lots of jobs, and another warns it would sap funding states use for schools.

  • Another ad blames California's recent rolling blackouts on policies that are "putting gas out of business," and another portrays gas is an ally in the fight against climate change.
  • "Why should we choose between cleaner air and jobs when we can have both,” an actor in that ad states.
  • "We can fight climate change while developing our resources at home," API President Mike Sommers tells Axios.

Reality check: While California grid managers are adjusting to increased reliance on renewables, the recent blackouts were based on several causes. The nonprofit Atlantic Council has a nice primer here.

  • Natural gas has helped to cut electricity sector CO2 emissions by displacing coal. But heavy reliance on gas-fired power — at least without expensive carbon-capture that hasn't yet been commercially deployed — is not compatible with deep decarbonization.

The other side: “It’s no surprise that the oil industry is arguing against the transition to a clean energy future and claiming that we should keep handing over America’s majestic public lands and waters to them," said Matthew Davis, legislative director for the League of Conservation Voters.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 7, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Solar shares' spikes signal new energy landscape in D.C.

Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

There's a certain symmetry to a pair of energy sector developments Wednesday: Solar stocks jumped on a day that also brought hard evidence the oil industry has little interest in trying to drill in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The big picture: Solar and oil aren't really direct competitors, but both will be affected by the incoming Biden administration's policies and the speed of the global transition toward lower-carbon sources.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 8, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Energy implications of Biden's latest Cabinet picks

Marty Walsh, Gina Raimondo, Merrick Garland (from L to R). Photos: Paul Morigi, Paul Marotta, and Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden's final burst of Cabinet picks could have important roles to play in the new administration's climate change and energy agenda.

Driving the news: Biden plans to nominate Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo for Commerce, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for Labor, and Judge Merrick Garland for attorney general.

GOP implosion: Trump threats, payback

Spotted last week on a work van in Evansville, Ind. Photo: Sam Owens/The Evansville Courier & Press via Reuters

The GOP is getting torn apart by a spreading revolt against party leaders for failing to stand up for former President Trump and punish his critics.

Why it matters: Republican leaders suffered a nightmarish two months in Washington. Outside the nation’s capital, it's even worse.