Oil Industry Tears Page from Health Care Playbook to Battle Climate Bill

Protesters march against the health care bill. The sign at far left
reads "Cap and Trade + Socialized Medicine = No More USA…" (Photo: MassLive.com)

Thanks to conservative groups that have worked for months to stoke false rumors about Congress’ health care effort, a wave of negative "town hall" stories
is now dominating the media — and inspiring the oil industry to work
up a similar campaign of its own against the climate change bill.

The idea was hatched in a memo [PDF]
written by American Petroleum Institute (API) President Jack Gerard,
whose trade association represents the nation’s largest oil companies.
API’s "Energy Citizen" rallies, according to the memo, would be aimed
at convincing voters that the climate bill "could increase the price of
gas to $4 and lead to significant job losses."

urged API members to remain quiet about the effort (which hit the Wall
Street Journal’s blog on Tuesday): "You can assume with confidence that
the advocates for [emissions regulations] and the critics of oil and
gas are going to be very active, particularly during the August

The memo was later leaked to Greenpeace, which promptly sent it to reporters.

the oil-industry rallies will command even a fraction of the attention
that the health care events are getting remains an open question. Most
of the health "town halls" were organized by Democratic lawmakers as a
forum to hear constituent concerns, while the "Energy Citizen" events
— one of which appears to be slated for next week in Houston — would
be purely private-sector productions.

Environmental groups’
advance knowledge of the anti-climate rallies, however, could lead to
on-the-ground battles over the future of the climate bill. The ultimate
intended audience for that showdown: Democratic senators who remain on the fence about regulating emissions.

A longer list of oil-industry "town halls" has been posted by the oil company ConocoPhilips (h/t Grist).

  • DJB

    I am convinced that cheap gasoline and stopping climate change are mutually exclusive goals (i.e. you can’t have them both).

    How can you stop climate change without curtailing the use of fossil fuels? How can you curtail the use of fossil fuels without making them more expensive (since an outright ban on their use would be impractical)?

    As long as we’re afraid of expensive gasoline the oil industry will weaken any climate bill before Congress to the point of kitten-like inefficacy.

    Expensive fossil fuels mean giving CPR to clean alternatives and giving people all of the right incentives to care for the environment. No pain, no gain.

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