Profiling Team Romney: American Petroleum Institute's Jack Gerard

By Luke Geiver | October 18, 2012

Jack Gerard is the current president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, but if presidential candidate Mitt Romney wins the 2012 election, his title could soon change. Earlier this year during the Republican primaries, Gerard unveiled his support of Romney by endorsing the candidate, and, since his open backing of the former Massachusetts governor for president, several political news outlets have pinpointed Gerard as the leading candidate to fill Romney’s White House chief of staff or energy secretary position. 

Gerard has an extensive background in the energy industry and in Washington, D.C. Prior to taking his role at API in 2008, Gerard was the president and CEO for both the American Chemistry Council and the National Mining Association. He has been featured in two publications (Washington Life and Fortune) as an influential advocate, and a member of Fortune’s “Power 100” in the capital.

In May of this year, Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, told an Idaho newspaper that Gerard would be selected as Romney’s chief of staff. Risch is Romney’s Idaho co-chairman. “Gerard is a heckuva player in Washington, D.C.,” Risch said. “He’s well thought of, well connected, has incredible street cred.” Former Sen. Jim McClure, R-Idaho, also noted that if Romney was elected in 2008, Gerard, who is from Idaho but now resides in Virginia, would have been asked to fill the chief of staff position.

API, an oil and gas trade group that serves more than 500 members, includes all size ranges of oil- or gas-based companies. Since Gerard took over leadership, API has created or endorsed several new fossil-based energy advocacy groups, including Energy Citizens, We Are Energy Nation, Energy From Shale and Energy Tomorrow.

Although Gerard’s role in the nation’s energy future will undoubtedly involve a strong push for greater use of U.S.-based oil and natural gas, his open support for biobased transportation fuels is less clear. Early this year the API authored a document titled, “The State of American Energy.” The piece offered energy-linked solutions for the country to create jobs, stimulate the economy and secure the country’s energy future, none of which included any significant mention of biobased fuels.

“Renewable energy sources are an important part of America’s future energy mix, and further industry developments and new technologies to advance energy efficiency will also play a critical role in maximizing future resources,” the piece said. “But it is also evident that for at least the next 50 years, and possibly much longer, a majority of America’s energy supply will come from fossil fuels.”

At the World Affairs Council of Charlotte in August, Gerard spoke about energy. “When you consider U.S. fossil fuels, nuclear energy, renewable and alternative energy sources such as biofuels,” he said, “you see a country with the largest energy resources in the world.”

But, Gerard added the country cannot stay trapped by policies and energy philosophies that say the country should have less oil and natural gas, “so that we can have more of something else.”

API’s discussion of renewable energy and biofuels may be limited, but the organization does weigh-in frequently on the renewable fuel standard and the issues in the biodiesel industry with renewable identification numbers, offering its displeasure with the U.S. EPA’s role in the process, along with its general sentiment that the EPA should not hold the role it currently does over the U.S. Clean Air Act.

If Gerard becomes the next chief of staff, he would be taking over the gatekeeper position currently occupied by Jacob Lew. Prior to his current position, Lew was the Director of the Office of Management and Budget between 1998 and 2001, and then again starting in 2010. Lew was in office during the Solyndra debate. Prior to Lew, Rahm Emanuel, now mayor of Chicago, held the position. Former vice president Dick Cheney was once chief of staff, along with Donald Rumsfeld.

If Gerard takes over for energy secretary Steven Chu, he would be taking over the role currently held by the only Nobel Prize winner to ever hold the position.

Editor’s Note: This is the second of a six-part series profiling the agricultural and energy advisors to the Romney/Ryan campaign.

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