Facing South

Big Oil rallies to save Big Oil

The organizer of the Rally for Jobs events? The American Petroleum Institute (API), with help from other industry groups including the Independent Petroleum Association of America, the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association and the International Association of Drilling Contractors.

Rallies held yesterday in Houston, Port Arthur and Corpus Christi drew an estimated 5,500 people, many of them employees from Texas-based oil industry firms. API says the rallies are aimed at protecting the estimated 9.2 million U.S. jobs supported by the energy industry.

About 200 employees of Houston-based Conoco-Phillips volunteered to attend yesterday's rally at the George R. Brown Convention Center, the Houston Chronicle reports. API provided transportation to the gatherings for oil company employees.

Environmental advocates criticized the rallies as "astroturf" events that are designed to appear grassroots but which are actually funded by corporate interests.

"By staging these rallies, API is trying to distort public perception," says Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen's energy program. "People want the government to ensure that another BP oil disaster never happens again. Lawmakers would be derelict in their duty if they didn't respond to the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history."

Slocum points out that API President Jack Gerard sent a memo to member companies last year laying out a plan to organize rallies against climate change legislation. The memo asked recipients to give API "the name of one central coordinator for your company's involvement in the rallies" and warned, "Please treat this information as sensitive ... we don't want critics to know our game plan."

"A year later, the game plan hasn't changed," says Slocum, "but the legislative focus has."

In the wake of the BP disaster, federal lawmakers have proposed setting new standards for blowout preventers and other safety equipment, eliminating the existing $75 million cap for oil companies' liability for spills, restructuring the industry-friendly regulatory agency formerly known as the Minerals Management Service, reforming the royalty system to ensure oil companies pay their fair share for use of public land, and adding protections for whistleblowers who call attention to safety violations in oil and gas operations.

The oil industry is fighting those regulatory efforts -- and spending big money to do so. So far this year, API alone has spent $3.57 million on federal lobbying efforts, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Last year it spent $7.32 million. The oil and gas industry overall is the fourth-biggest spender on federal lobbying efforts in 2010, shelling out more than $74.9 million to date. Last year the industry came in third with an expenditure of more than $175 million.

API is holding other Rally for Jobs events through next week in Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico and Ohio.

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re: Big Oil rallies to save Big Oil

so,what else is new?

re: Big Oil rallies to save Big Oil

The more off-shore accidents, the more these unconcienceable greed meisters of the oil patch try to thwart government protection of the coastal areas and the livlihoods of the people there.

Only in the world of Bush / Cheney, the Party of Obstruction, The Blue Dog Dinos, and the fools in the bordering Red states would support less regulation. That is precisely how the recent fiascos took place in BAnking, Wall St., Iraq, Afghanistan and most other areas in which the righties have ruined the prosperity of our country.

re: Big Oil rallies to save Big Oil

Perhaps the Petroleum Industry Association folks could all sing this song ("Killin' the Gulf of Mexico") as they tour the country:

http://www.youtube.com/rantcaster#p/a/u/0/1OTu8j-kzbA

re: Big Oil rallies to save Big Oil

They corporations are funding protests like this all over the place. Look at the money for the anti-climate change crew, all oil money. There is a Corporate Coup going on... they do not pay taxes, and they take corporate welfare. I really am worried about this country.

re: Big Oil rallies to save Big Oil

Rally for further exploitation of natural resources that should belong to the people anyway.

re: Big Oil rallies to save Big Oil

Texas Teaparty?

re: Big Oil rallies to save Big Oil

Just when I think I've heard and seen it all....I'm hit on the other side of my head with this kind of information. The corporations are truly gaining the power everywhere. So I hold my grandchildren on my lap and wonder about the country they will see when they are old enough to understand how America lost its democracy.