American Petroleum Institute's Revisionist History on Climate Change Position

The American Petroleum Institute, the trade group for the oil and natural gas industry, is trying to re-write history by claiming that it has remained "neutral" about U.S. climate legislation.

Nothing could be further from the truth, actually.

API orchestrated the entire "Energy Citizens" astroturf campaign last year precisely to fight against climate legislation.

Greenpeace USA obtained an internal memo[PDF] from the desk of API president Jack Gerard detailing polluting interests' plans to launch the nationwide astroturf campaign attacking climate legislation as "tax increases on our industry."

The API memo requested API's member companies to recruit employees, retirees, vendors and contractors to attend the "Energy Citizen" rallies in key Congressional districts nationwide during the August recess last year, no doubt hoping to be confused with a genuine grassroots uprising, much like the tea parties. In fact, the API memo confirms that it would be funding and staffing the whole highly-orchestrated campaign:

To be clear, API will provide the up-front resources to ensure logistical issues do not become a problem. This includes contracting with a highly experienced events management company that has produced successful rallies for presidential campaigns, corporations and interest groups. It also includes coordination with the other interests who share our views on the issues, providing a field coordinator in each state, conducting a comprehensive communications and advocacy activation plan for each state, and serving as central manager for all events.

Fast-forward to yesterday, when Anne Mulkern of E&E's Greenwire (syndicated by the New York Times) reported on comments made by API spokeswoman Cathy Landry:

Landry said API has not been among those calling climate legislation a national energy tax. API has not come out in opposition to any of the Senate climate bills, saying that it is "neutral."

In fact, API's Astroturf campaign website,, is littered with references to "job-killing energy taxes," and complains about climate legislation "targeting consumers, businesses, and energy-producing companies for increased taxes."

A sister website called, also run by API, describes climate legislation as "taxes" seven times on the homepage, and features a video of API president Jack Gerard complaining about "tax increases" from Congressional climate and energy legislation.

And lest there be any ambiguity about API's role in creating and, this is explicitly acknowledged on the front page of both websites: note "Copyright 2010 API" and the "Who We Are" page.

Never mind all that, just go to API's own website, where you can feast your eyes on dozens of references to climate and energy legislation as "energy taxes."

Kate Sheppard reported in April at Mother Jones that she saw API's "energy tax" ads three times in 30 minutes:

"Nary a night goes by here in Washington that I'm not confronted with multiple ads from API claiming that "Congress is considering $80 billion in new energy taxes." Last night, I saw three just during 'The Daily Show.'"

Here is one of API's own ads, which refers to climate legislation as energy "taxes" three times.

Here are a bunch more print, TV and radio ads from API, many of which scream about, you guessed it, "New Energy Taxes."

In fact, API is running an ad campaign in ten states right now, throughout July, bemoaning Congressional energy legislation as "new taxes."

Let's review that Greenwire report one more time:

Landry said API has not been among those calling climate legislation a national energy tax. API has not come out in opposition to any of the Senate climate bills, saying that it is "neutral."

API must be joking right? Either that or Mulkern needs to run a correction on her article.

This is almost as shameful as API's use of fake "Americans" outraged about energy taxes in its ads, which turned out to be photos purchased from Getty Images.

What will they make up next?