It's no secret that oil and gas companies don't like the Waxman-Markey climate change bill. After all, Exxon and its ilk stand to lose a lot of cash if they have to buy emission permits for all the greenhouse gases they let loose. But instead of letting legitimate anti-Waxman-Markey grassroots effort form, a group called Energy Citizens—an alliance of over 60 energy companies led by the American Petroleum Institute—have decided to take matters into their own hands by organizing so-called astroturfing protest rallies.
The first of these rallies was held on Tuesday in Houston, Texas, with peculiar results. Thousands of energy company employees were bussed in to the Verizon Wireless Theater where they found t-shirts with slogans like "I'll Pass on $4 Gas" and "I'm an Energy Citizen!" waiting for them. The problem? Some of the people in attendance had no idea what they were there for, as evidenced in the video below.
When a member of a dance team performing at the event was asked what the rally was for, she answered that it was about conserving energy. Not exactly.
The API actively discouraged grassroots participation by kicking out non-energy employees who agreed with their cause. This was astroturfing at its finest, and rest assured we'll see plenty more of it—at least 19 more rallies are expected to pop up in oil-producing states in the coming weeks. Will it work? Probably not, as long as Energy Citizens continues to hamper legitimate support for their efforts.