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Climate Change

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

11:16 AM PDT on August 17, 2009

large_Health1.jpg
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."

Gerard
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
recess."

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

Whether
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).

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