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Philip Radford

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Trimming Astroturf From the American Petroleum Institute's 'Vote 4 Energy' Ad

Posted: 01/08/12 04:41 PM ET

It's not surprising that the American Petroleum Institute -- Big Oil's premium lobbying entity -- is using a synthetic media strategy. Their Vote 4 Energy astroturf campaign spews misinformation like a two-stroke engine belching greenhouse gasses. It attempts to portray 'real (cough cough) Americans' who are 'energy voters,' which translates to voting for whichever politicians support Big Oil's dirty agenda.

API also bought the back page of the A section of the Washington Post with a Vote4Energy ad that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. That's about as genuine as a gas-station burrito.

If you want authentic insights on Big Oil's scheming, start with our own mock Vote 4 Energy commercial.

Anticipating this new misinformation campaign, PolluterWatch created a mock Vote 4 Energy commercial to show how API and it's oil company members (Exxon, BP, Shell, Chevron and all the usual suspects) are generating this phony citizen support for Big Oil.

What's really fueling this bogus outreach is API's $200 million budget to push dirty energy incentives and tax handouts for oil companies -- something the petrol pushers can't do on their own. Hence the need to prop up a phony corps of pseudo-interested citizens. They've even gone so far as to stage faux-rallies for their Energy Citizens astroturf campaign, as revealed by Greenpeace in a confidential API memo to oil executives. The con-job is essential to their strategy because American's overwhelmingly support clean energy over dirty oil development.

We decided to fight astroturf with astroturf -- the real stuff this time, rolling out a carpet of fake green grass at today's API press conference, flanked by oil company logos that reveal who the real sponsors of this supposed citizens' movement actually are. The K Street lobbyists seemed confused when the reality of their oily tactics was exposed for all to see.

Of course, all of this points back to our own, honest Vote 4 Energy campaign, which we'll put up against the fake API version any day of the week.

API CEO Jack Gerard not only heralded the launch of the campaign, he championed even more dirty energy development like the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in his "State of American Energy" address -- a proverbial plastic cherry on top of this petroleum-derived sundae of misinformation.

Media aren't fooled. Outlets from the Financial Times to Fortune reinforce what we all know: that this is nothing more than a fossil-fuel-filled PR push. The Hill uses refreshing candor right from the headline, labeling the whole effort nothing more than an ad campaign, quoting Greenpeace reps who reveal the truth despite the API soot-screen.

Oddly enough, just after bragging about a DC metro station "dominated" by API's new Vote 4 Energy ads to those attending the campaign launch on Wednesday, Gerard say "This is not an advertising campaign. Our expectation is that it will be a conversation with the American people." Except the Vote 4 Energy website's front page clearly says "Vote4Energy launches ad campaign." Hmmm... I guess that's what astroturf campaigns are about -- creating both sides of your "conversation with the American people" so you can easily come to a consensus with yourself.

Americans are clearly too smart to be faked out by Big Oil's phony grass roots strategies. Real citizens will continue to counter the fictional folks created by API. We'll demand clean, renewable energy alternatives that mean genuine job growth, a healthier environment, and a sustainable future that puts our planet ahead of petroleum profit.

Vote 4 yourself, not oil executives.

 

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