The Super Bowl: Football, Food and…Fracking Ads

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The Super Bowl: Football, Food and…Fracking Ads

An American Petroleum Institute advertisement for natural gas. (Screenshot via API)

Super Bowl commercials are famous for being the most expensive ad buys of the year. These commercials are designed to persuade by using tactics that tug at our heartstrings, make us laugh or promise a better life. The oil and gas industry is no stranger to these strategies.

After what must have been a devastating loss to the industry—the ban on fracking in New York announced by Governor Cuomo this past December—the American Petroleum Institute (API) is dropping $100,000 dollars on a 30-second ad blitz during halftime that will air in the D.C. area, where many of our country’s decision makers and major influencers will be watching the event. API’s Super Bowl commercial, which touts fracking as the key to American energy independence and job creation, is the most expensive spot the lobbyist group has bought in their recent string of ads. Couple this with API’s spending as a whole, and you’ll understand the outrage.

You see, in 2012, API spent more than $7 million dollars lobbying the federal government. But it also shelled out a whopping $85.5 million to public relations and advertising firms, as a means to, as the Center for Public Integrity puts it, “lobby the American public”. Between 2008 and 2013, API paid one PR giant a total of $327.4 million dollars to shape public opinion, and that’s only one of the many firms they’ve hired.

API isn’t the only one shelling out big bucks to influence the public about fossil fuels. Politico reports the Koch brothers will spend $889 million ahead of the 2016 elections, double what the Republican National Committee spent in the 2012 cycle.

No thanks to Citizen’s United, which just rang in its 5-year anniversary, it is crystal-clear that money rules politics; this week’s football game is yet another arena where the industry will drop cash to wield influence. But we won’t be cowed. Together, we will continue to fight for what’s right: a democracy led by people, not corporations. You can ask your Member of Congress to overturn the Citizen’s United decision here.

Want to learn more about the money machine behind the pro-fracking agenda? Check out our primer on API and other organizations promoting and funding fracking interests at all levels of our government here.

Katherine Cirullo

Katherine Cirullo is the communications assistant for Food & Water Watch. She provides support to the communications team in a number of ways, particularly by tracking and organizing media and writing and editing press materials. Katherine received a B.A. in sociology with a concentration in environmental studies from Colorado College. She also has experience in the field studying agro-ecology and political ecology of forests and oceans in Thailand. She can be reached at kcirullo@fwwatch.org.

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