The American Petroleum Institute launched new advertising on Tuesday calling on a handful of Senate Democrats to support preserving billions of dollars in oil and natural gas tax breaks.
"America spoke, loudly, clearly: We want a common sense plan to help people succeed," the TV ad states over pictures of people voting during last week's elections and people working on manufacturing sites. "Sen. Mark Warner can make energy a big part of improving our economy."
Warner, Virginia's senior Democratic senator, is up for reelection in 2014. In fact, surely not coincidentally, all the Democrats API is focusing on are among the more than 20 Senate Democrats up for reelection in two years. They include Sens. Tom Udall of New Mexico, Mark Udall of Colorado, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas.
All of these Democrats have in the past—as recently as this last March—voted to repeal oil and gas tax breaks. API is hoping that by singling out Democrats hailing from states increasingly awash with oil and natural gas production, they can convince them to preserve the industry's tax breaks.
"We want to make sure that where energy is being talked about, the energy producers are talking," said Khary Cauthen, senior director of federal relations at API, on a conference call announcing the new ads.
API is ramping up its lobbying efforts as Washington tackles the fiscal cliff and mulls diverting some of the oil industry's $4 billion-a-year tax breaks to offset other costs. The sector's tax breaks, many of which have been embedded in the tax code for almost 100 years, are also expected to be on the table in the broader corporate tax reform efforts next year.
API also launched two ads supporting a pair of oil-state Democrats who have typically voted to preserve the industry's tax breaks: Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. They are also up for reelection in 2014.
The ads will run in Washington, D.C.-area TV markets and in the seven targeted states. API did not disclose the cost of the ad buy.