Fighting for influence …

Opening the newspaper, turning on the TV, going onto the web, it is hard to avoid the images and messages that $billions can buy. And, $billions are what the fossil fuel industries have available and $billions in profits are what they see as at risk. So, they are funding huge efforts to distort the debate and confuse Americans in ways that will undercut the potential to achieve an Energy Smart future.

The Washington Post published today Oil Lobby Reaches out to Citizens Peeved at the Pump, outlining what the American Petroleum Institute is going to be doing in a “multiyear, multimedia, multimillion-dollar campaign”. What do these efforts include?

  • advertising in the nation’s largest newspapers,
  • news conferences in many state capitals and
  • trips for bloggers out to drilling platforms at sea
  • Of course, no mention of jobs for politicians’ relatives …

    In the face of renewed efforts to fund renewable energy programs with reducing tax subsidies to the Big Five of the oil industry (such as Exxon-Mobil, with its $40 billion of profits in 2007 and largest profits forecast in 2008), investing a few million (or tens of millions of) dollars in advertising and outreach to influence the debate and confuse Americans seems a rather cheap price to pay.

    Now, as to blogger outreach, this is not new news for API, going on for at least the last year or so. From the Post article

    The lobby has started courting online journalists as well. In November, the institute said it invited bloggers to Shell’s facilities in New Orleans and then took them to visit the offshore platform Brutus. The same month, the institute also brought bloggers to Chevron’s offices in Houston and its Blind Faith platform under construction in Corpus Christi, Tex. There are more tours in the works.

    In fact, this is a reasonable thing to do. Speaking with industry, gaining knowledge, having a perspective is a good thing for a journalist / blogger / commentator on energy issues. Knowing more about an industry does not make one “bought”.

    The challenge here is the misdirection and basic deceitful nature of the message. API is not interested in truth, but true information used in deceiving, truthiness fashion to maximize the profits for their members.

    In addition, their entire effort is not just financial, but it is setting obstacles before the path toward achieving a more prosperous, climate-friendly society.


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