Roll Out the Astroturf! Big Oil’s Bringing Fake Rallies Back

Energy CitizenReports today’s Houston Chronicle:

More than 5,000 energy sector workers flocked to three Texas rallies Wednesday to protest what they view as an onslaught of punitive measures from Washington that threaten oil and gas jobs and domestic energy supplies.

Wow, what an amazing, spontaneous, totally unpaid show of support! Um, right?

The rallies, which also took place Wednesday in Corpus Christi and Port Arthur, were sponsored in part by the American Petroleum Institute, a Washington industry group and lobby whose members include major oil companies.

The events drew employees from industry giants and small businesses that support them — many of whom arrived on buses arranged by API. […]

Rally participants, treated to hot dogs, live country music and marching bands, donned yellow and red matching T-shirts containing their companies’ names, or blue shirts passed out at the door that declared, “I am an energy citizen.”

I mean, what better way to exercise your First Amendment rights than by wearing a t-shirt with an employer-approved slogan that someone handed you at a rally your employer bussed you to & you were required to attend as part of your job?

Yesterday’s rally was nearly identical to the ones staged by Big Oil last summer. Last year, the oil & gas industries and electric utilities spent an astonishing $320 million on lobbying Congress. (By comparison, conservation organizations spent $22 million.)

Of course, spending more money on lobbying Congress than the Yankees spend on payroll isn’t enough. A lobbying group hired by the coal industry stooped to forging letters to Congress opposing climate action.

So the next time you hear of “citizen” outrage about clean energy & climate action, make sure you know who’s really pulling the strings. Could be this guy or one of his friends.

And be sure to tell your senators that Big Oil doesn’t speak for you.

Photo via Flickr’s EnergyCitizens