Who is the Worst Environmental Offender of the Year?

If you haven’t heard by now, Repower America is asking the public to vote on the worst environmental offender of 2010. The winner, who will be announced next week, will receive our first annual Snake Oil Award. Some of my colleagues have been arguing that Koch Industries or BP deserve to win, but there is another group that works full time to push the interests of the oil industry and deserves your consideration: the American Petroleum Institute.

The American Petroleum Institute, or API as it is commonly called, is the main U.S. trade association for the oil and natural gas industry. Oil companies pay dues to API, and, in turn, API allows the companies to hide behind its façade as API does the dirty work: running pro-oil advertising and lobbying the government for policies that the companies support. So far in the 111th Congress, API has spent more than $66 million on TV ads and more than $14 million to lobby the government. [1, 2] Dues-paying members of API include ExxonMobil, BP America, Shell, Halliburton, ConocoPhillips, and Enbridge, a Canadian oil pipeline company that exports 12% of the U.S.’s daily crude imports which made recent headlines in Michigan, New York, and Illinois for several oil spills.

API has the nerve to complain of an “unlevel playing field” on tax rates for oil companies, when the reality is that “oil production is among the most heavily subsidized businesses, with tax breaks available at virtually every stage of the exploration and extraction process,” according to the New York Times.

API is behind the “Energy Citizens” and “Rally for Jobs” campaigns that work to oppose tax changes on oil companies as well as stricter drilling regulations. API staged these public rallies to provide the appearance of public support for the oil industry, even though many of the people who attended the rallies are dirty energy company employees.

Until the coalition disbanded in 2002, API was a member of the Global Climate Coalition, which led campaigns against climate and global warming science. However, API has not ceased its attacks on climate science, and the association “continue[s] to lobby against any law or treaty that would sharply curb emissions.” Oh, and API’s “climate team leader” joined the Bush White House in 2001 where he “repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links” between greenhouse gases and global warming.

According to their website, API “speak[s] for the oil and natural gas industry to the public, Congress and the Executive Branch, state governments and the media.” API is only looking out for the profits of dirty energy companies. Repower America’s Snake Oil Awards is trying to expose API’s real agenda: making sure that oil and gas companies can continue to pollute unchecked and cheaply. Don’t let that happen. Vote for API to receive the Snake Oil Award and make sure everyone knows what they’re up to.

1) Kantar Media ?CMAG. Accessed October 20, 2010.
2) Senate Office of Public Records. Accessed October 23, 2010. http://soprweb.senate.gov/index.cfm?event=chooseFields

[Ed. note: Ryan Koronowski is the Research Director and Rapid Response Manager at the Alliance for Climate Protection, which along with its sister nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, the Climate Protection Action Fund, launched the Repower America initiative.]

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