Published on Thursday, August 20, 2009 by The Guardian/UK
BP and Shell Warned to Halt Campaign Against US Climate Change Bill
Oil firms urged to leave American Petroleum Institute and halt political lobbying by Greenpeace
BP  and Shell are being told to tear up their membership of the American Petroleum Institute (API) in protest at the organisation's attempts to incite a public backlash against Barack Obama 's energy and climate change  bill.
The two oil  companies are also being asked to bring a halt to their own political lobbying in
"BP maintains its membership of the API through paying substantial fees based on the large size of BP's business. It is our concern that these fees are used by the API to undermine US government action on climate change and that BP's membership of the API contradicts its position on the issue," writes John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, in a letter to Tony Hayward, the BP boss.
The letter also questions the $8m (£4.8m) worth of spending on lobbying in
The demands from Greenpeace follow revelations in the Guardian last Friday that the API was pumping money into a series of "citizen rallies" to put pressure on the Obama administration over its support for a climate change bill sponsored by Congressmen Henry Waxman and Edward Markey which comes before the Senate next month.
The proposed legislation, which has already successfully passed through the House of Representatives, marks a clear move by the US to adopt a greener political and economic agenda and ditch the kind of sceptical views on global warming that were the hallmark of the previous government run by George W Bush, himself a former oilman.
An email sent by Jack Gerard, president of the API, says the lobby group will provide "upfront resources" to pay for a highly experienced events company to organise the public protest meetings, but it says oil companies themselves should encourage their staff to go to some of the 20 rallies being considered.
"In the 11 states with an [oil] industry core, our member company local leadership – including your facility manager's commitment to provide significant attendance – is essential," the note says.
Greenpeace and Platform believe these actions are "astroturfing" – a determined attempt to create a false appearance of popular opposition to the Obama plans to control carbon emissions  from oil while boosting wind and other cleaner technologies. The environmentalists remind
After protests, BP and later Shell withdrew from the GCC and started to make tentative investments in renewable energy, notably wind farms in
BP said it was "highly unlikely" it would pull out of the API, which was just one of hundreds of trade bodies to which it was affiliated. But it stressed that it was not involved directly in any of the planned public rallies. "Our views on climate change legislation are fairly well known," said a BP spokesman at its
Shell said tonight that it had told the API that it would not participate in the rallies but indicated it would not be leaving the organisation. "Our focus is on seeking common ground with stakeholders that can aid Congress in enacting a fair and effective cap and trade program. We will continue to express our position within API and other business and trade associations of which we are members," added a spokesman at its headquarters in
Meanwhile ExxonMobil, a stalwart of previous opposition to
A note above from Rex Tillerson, chairman and chief executive of the world's biggest publicly quoted oil company, says: "Our elected officials make decisions that affect all of us. It is critical that we as a company, and more importantly as individuals, are part of the political process. By linking ExxonMobil employees and retirees to their elected officials, we can let our representatives know that the ExxonMobil family is an important force in civic life."
© 2009 Guardian News and Media Limited
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs