08/17/2010 03:27 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Big Oil launches bogus "citizen rallies" to fight regulation

Big Oil is diving deep into its Orwellian playbook and rolling out a series of so-called "citizen rallies" and "rally for jobs" events this summer to try and beat back any new regulations on their industry.

After causing the worst environmental disaster in American history, the sheer scale of this shameless, dirty astro-turfing is shocking. While Big Oil will try and spin the rallies as local affairs, it couldn't be clearer who's behind the upcoming events.

This morning, Jack Gerard, the president of the Big Oil front group the American Petroleum Institute, announced the rallies on a call with reporters. API is the same group behind the bogus campaign last August to drive out industry-paid lackeys to protest climate legislation at town hall meetings. API has doubled its lobbying expenditures this quarter to $2.3 million, according to its most recent disclosure reports with Congress.

And according to a new website that launched today, that's just a fraction of the dirty money that's getting funneled into the Senate. profiles 46 U.S. Senators - Democrat and Republican - who are aligned with the oil industry. They are portrayed bobbing in a sea of petroleum. A six-figure advertising campaign and extensive social media push accompanies the campaign.

The website is a project of Oil Change International and supported by a coalition of groups including True Majority, Public Citizen, MoveOn,, and Greenpeace.

"We hope Americans are motivated to clean up the gusher of oil money that is currently covering these Senators," said Steve Kretzmann, Oil Change Executive Director. "This campaign exposes these Senators and lets people send them a message that it's time they clean up their act. Its time for a Separation of Oil and State."

As API plans its corporate rallies for September, there's a legitimate grassroots movement afoot to fight back against these corporate cronies. is helping lead another coalition of groups who are signing up citizens across the country to "shadow" their Senators by showing up at town hall meetings during this August recess and demonstrating their support for clean energy and frustration over the Senate's failure to pass climate legislation. Over 2,500 people have already signed up to join shadow teams across the country.

But we're going to need even more people to help expose API and its Orwellian tactics. For years, the Tobacco industry was able to roll out fake studies and scientists to beat back regulation. Often, the mainstream media was complicit in the sham, parroting bogus statistics as facts and refusing to draw the connections between dirty money and corrupt policies.

Hopefully, and other efforts will help shine a spotlight on the toxic corruption Big Oil is perpetrating our country, from the waters of the Gulf to the halls of Congress.