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API Hires a New Expert in Grassroots Advocacy

March 8, 2010
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The American Petroleum Institute (API) has hired away an expert in grassroots mobilization from a leading environmental group to help get across the message of the importance of natural gas and oil in generating jobs and contributing to the nation's economy and security.

Deryck Spooner, formerly with the Nature Conservancy, has joined API as director of external mobilization, where he will coordinate the institute's grassroots efforts with respect to oil and natural gas. "Deryck has extensive experience in the strategic and tactical aspects of both political and issue campaigns," said API President Jack Gerard.

"He's a veteran of coalition building and grassroots mobilization and will play a vital role in our advocacy work at a critically important moment for U.S. energy policy. We're extremely fortunate to have him on our team."

Spooner told NGI he would be helping to build a strong mobilization program through both internal groups such as oil and gas company employees, customers, vendors and retirees, and with nontraditional groups for whom job creation is very important. There are approximately 9.2 million people associated with the industry who can be mobilized. Beyond that, with the oil and gas industry responsible for 7.5% of gross domestic product, its jobs function resounds with different religious and minority groups whose members need those jobs, he said.

"The environmental people have always been out there," Spooner said. "People like parks so it's a natural fit. It's not heavy lifting" to get their support for environmental programs. "But people don't really know much about the oil and gas industry." While companies and industry organizations already do some outreach and educational programs, "the industry needs to step up its game" particularly outside the Washington Beltway, gathering support from ordinary Americans who are concerned about jobs.

"My father was a petroleum engineer in the oil business. I spent part of my childhood on the rigs," Spooner said. "I know how important oil and natural gas are today and will be for the nation's energy future even as the use of alternative energy grows. I'm determined to work hard to help ensure the nation's energy policies reflect this reality."

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