Industry Astroturf Rally Against Climate Change Bill Shows Big Oil Can’t Organize Real Grassroots Movement - API Throws Company Picnic, Not Town Hall Meeting, on Climate Change

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Industry Astroturf Rally Against Climate Change Bill Shows Big Oil Can’t Organize Real Grassroots Movement - API Throws Company Picnic, Not Town Hall Meeting, on Climate Change

Statement of Andy Wilson, Global Warming Program Director for Public Citizen’s Texas Office

WASHINGTON - Don’t be fooled if you see news stories about a rally in Houston on Tuesday opposing federal climate change legislation. It was just an
industry-organized ploy designed to scuttle lawmakers’ attempts to curb
greenhouse gas emissions. Ultimately, the industry just wants to
protect its profits.

The rally, attended by approximately 2,500 people, was organized by
Energy Citizens, an astroturf alliance funded primarily by the American
Petroleum Institute (API). We know this is a fake grassroots group
because on Friday, Greenpeace uncovered an internal memo in which API
asked member companies and groups to help recruit employees, retirees,
vendors and contractors to attend this and 21 other rallies in key
congressional districts. Today’s event was the first of these
orchestrated events, more company picnic than town hall meeting, and
gives us a glimpse into what future events will look like.

Average citizens were barred from entering the rally. The only
people allowed in were energy company employees, who were bused in and
who had to show company ID to attend. Unable to organize a legitimate
grassroots campaign, Big Oil and its corporate allies have bought one. 

API and its partners, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National
Association of Manufacturers, have bought a fake grassroots campaign
because they don’t have the facts or public opinion on their side. The
most recent Texas Lyceum poll shows that more Texans support limits on
greenhouse gases emitted by corporations than oppose them. Respondents
to the Houston Area Survey held the same opinion, even if it meant that
electricity rates would rise.

We have our concerns about the current version of federal climate
legislation, which we believe gives far too much to the fossil fuel
industries. For example, oil companies receive $2 billion worth of free
allowances under the Waxman-Markey climate change bill and are asking
for even more.

But contrary to the complaints of “Energy Citizens” that climate
legislation will be a job killer, studies done by the Natural Resources
Defense Council have shown that Waxman-Markey, even in its current,
weakened form, would still create 1.7 million green jobs, 153,000 of
which would be in Texas. A more robust climate bill could be even more
transformative.

Houston has always been an energy city, but it doesn’t have to
remain a polluting city. Houston can maintain its place as the energy
capital of America while simultaneously creating new clean energy
industries and jobs.

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Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts.

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