The American Petroleum Institute kicked off a major new lobbying, media, advertising and social media campaign on Wednesday called "Vote 4 Energy," aimed at injecting the oil and drilling debate into the 2012 campaign. The industry campaign will run nationally and get especially heavy play in the electoral swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, said API president Jack Gerard, who declined to say how much the campaign cost."API has worked hard to engage the energy discussion, particularly in primary states," Gerard said. "Election year presents the perfect opportunity to encourage that discussion. We expect energy issues to figure prominently in voting decisions."Gerard said the campaign is not meant to be partisan, or meant to target or endorse a particular candidate and then explicitly criticized the energy policies of the Obama administration. He slammed the Interior Department's recent 5-year drilling plan, which reined in earlier proposals to drill off the coast of Virginia.In an election that will hinge on employment and the economy, the oil industry's campaign will attempt to hammer home the idea that increased oil drilling will generate jobs and increase revenue to deficit-plagued federal and state coffers - a claim also being repeated by Republican presidential campaigns. The campaign will also call on Obama to approve the controversial Keystone oil pipeline, which his environmental base insists that he reject.Gerard said the president's decision on the pipeline will have "enormous political consequences.""Anything other than approving Keystone would be at odds with what the majority of American voters want," he said.
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