CEOs back more oil drilling and Keystone XL pipeline

A group of top business executives on Monday urged U.S. officials to cut red tape for drillers and open more federal land to oil and gas interests and approve the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline which is opposed by some environmental groups.

The Business Roundtable, which speaks for chief executives at major U.S. companies, said too much regulation is hindering a true domestic energy renaissance even as domestic oil and gas output is booming due to new technology such as fracking.

"Technology, coupled with access to vast resources, could help strengthen America's position as an energy superpower," Chevron CEO John Watson said in a call outlining the plan.

The Roundtable said the United States needs to end "the decades-long cycle of ad hoc energy policies and forge a coherent, forward-looking energy framework."

Congress and the administration should pursue policies that expand ocean and onshore drilling while "ensuring regulatory and financial predictability."

The CEOs said that federal authorities should "respect" the traditional role played by states in regulating oil and natural gas activity and added that over-regulating would risk putting some promising fracking areas off-limits.

The report also calls for energy efficiency standards and a boost for renewable energy like wind power while dodging more controversial questions such as the level of natural gas exports the United States should pursue

Energy companies want officials to allow a share of oil and natural gas production to be sent overseas while industrial giants like Dow Chemical Co want cheap domestic energy to boost the factory sector.

(Reporting By Patrick Rucker and Valerie Volcovici, writing by Ros Krasny; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and David Gregorio)