Oil Lobby to Fund Campaign Against Obama's Climate Change Strategy

Email from American Petroleum Institute outlines plan to create 
appearance of public opposition to Obama's climate and energy reform

Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Friday 14 August 2009

The US oil and gas lobby are planning to stage public events to give 
the appearance of a groundswell of public opinion against legislation 
on climate change strategy, according to campaigners. that is key to 
Barack Obama's

A key lobbying group will bankroll and organise 20 ''energy citizen'' 
rallies in 20 states. In an email obtained by Greenpeace, Jack 
Gerard, the president of the American Petroleum Institute (API), 
outlined what he called a "sensitive" plan to stage events during the 
August congressional recess to put a "human face" on opposition to 
climate and energy reform.

After the clamour over healthcare, the memo raises the possibility of 
a new round of protests against a key Obama issue.

"Our goal is to energise people and show them that they are not 
alone," said Cathy Landry, for API, who confirmed that the memo was 

The email from Gerard lays out ambitious plans to stage a series of 
lunchtime rallies to try to shape the climate bill that was passed by 
the house in June and will come before the Senate in September. "We 
must move aggressively," it reads.

The API strategy also extends to a PR drive. Gerard cites polls to 
test the effectiveness of its arguments against climate change 
legislation. It offers up the "energy citizen" rallies as ready-made 
events, noting that allies - which include manufacturing and farm 
alliances as well as 400 oil and gas member organisations - will have 
to do little more than turn up.

"API will provide the up-front resources," the email said. "This 
includes contracting with a highly experienced events management 
company that has produced successful rallies for presidential 

However, it said member organisations should encourage employees to 
attend to command the attention of senators. "In the 11 states with 
an industry core, our member company local leadership - including 
your facility manager's commitment to provide significant attendance 
- is essential," said the email.

Greenpeace described the meetings as "astroturfing" - events intended 
to exert pressure on legislators by giving the impression of a 
groundswell of public opinion. Kert Davies, its research director, 
said: "It is the behind the scenes plan to disrupt the debate and 
weaken political support for climate regulation."

The rally sites were chosen to exert maximum pressure on Democrats in 
conservative areas. The API also included talking points for the 
rallies - including figures on the costs of energy reform that were 
refuted weeks ago by the congressional budget office.

The API drive also points to a possible fracturing of the US Climate 
Action Partnership (Uscap), a broad coalition of corporations and 
energy organisations which was instrumental in drafting the 
Waxman-Markey climate change bill that passed in the House of 
Representatives in June.

Passage of the legislation is seen as crucial to the prospects of 
getting the world to sign on to a climate change treaty at Copenhagen 
next December.

Five members of Uscap are also in API, including BP which said its 
employees were aware of the rallies. Conoco Phillips, which was also 
a member of the climate action partnership, has also turned against 
climate change, warning on its website that the legislation will put 
jobs at risk, and compromise America's energy security. The company 
is also advertising the energy rallies on its website, urging 
readers: "Make your voice heard."

However, Shell, also a member of both groups, said it did not support 
the rallies. Bill Tenner, a spokesman, said: "We are not 

© 2009 Guardian News and Media Limited

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