US oil industry trade group changes lawyers as gas prices soar

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The American Petroleum Institute, the biggest lobby group for the US oil and gas industry, has promoted from within to replace its former legal chief, Paul Afonso.

Ryan Meyers takes over as the new senior vice president and general counsel, the organization announced Wednesday. Meyers served as vice president and assistant general counsel for the Washington-based association.

A bounce message from Afonso’s work email address said he “is no longer with the API.” Media representatives for the organization did not respond to a request for comment on his departure. Afonso, hired by API in late 2019, also did not respond to a request sent to his personal email address.

The institute is grappling with rising gas prices in the United States as it battles the Biden administration over calls to increase production to offset shortages caused in part by the ban on Russian oil . The group’s chief executive, Mike Sommers, criticized the administration this month over oil permits.

API wants the US government to embrace shale as a way to alleviate production problems. Oil industry executives and U.S. officials met this month to discuss the growing energy crisis amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Changing of the guard

Meyers, a former attorney for now-retired Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Arizona), served long as assistant general counsel at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce before joining API in 2020.

He began his career as a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Washington before becoming general counsel to former Sen. Elizabeth Dole (RN.C.). Meyers also spent time in the Commerce Department and the Treasury Department during the second administration of President George W. Bush.

“Ryan has become a trusted advisor to me and many others,” Sommers said in a statement. “Ryan’s extensive experience in Washington and across government will serve API well.”

Meyers did not respond to a request for comment, nor did Deputy General Counsel John Wagner, who was elevated to succeed him as API’s Deputy General Counsel.

In the organization’s statement, Meyers said he looked forward to helping “advance America’s energy leadership.”

API hired Sommers, former chief of staff to former House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), to be its chief in 2018.

The organization has numerous attorneys on its payroll, including former Bracewell partner Frank Macchiarola and Kevin O’Scannlain, former attorney for DLA Piper and lead attorney for Chevron Corp. who served in the Trump administration.

O’Scannlain, the brother of former Labor Department attorney Kate O’Scannlain, joined API last year as vice president of upstream policy. Macchiarola was hired in 2016 and is now Senior Vice President of Policy, Economics and Regulatory Affairs.

Legal expenses

API’s latest federal tax return shows Afonso received nearly $394,000 in 2019 after he was hired in November of that year to succeed former General Counsel and Corporate Secretary Stacy Linden, who received $678. $500 from the commercial group.

Linden spent a dozen years at API before joining Stoel Rives as a partner in mid-2019. She left that law firm the following year to become senior director of ethics and compliance at global pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca PLC.

Afonso joined the organization after being a partner at Brown Rudnick in Boston, where he co-chaired the firm’s energy and utilities group and the law and government strategies group. At API, his title was General Counsel and Corporate Secretary.

API’s 2019 tax return shows the registered nonprofit paid nearly $2.2 million in legal fees that year to Covington & Burling, which currently employs Kyl as a senior adviser in Washington. Covington has played a role in more than 25% of cases involving APIs in US federal courts since 2007, according to data from Bloomberg Law.

In recent years, API has found itself embroiled in climate change litigation brought by municipalities against major players in the oil industry for allegedly making misleading claims about the potentially harmful environmental effects caused by carbon emissions. greenhouse gases from the fossil fuel industry.

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