'Game Plan Known'

Greenpeace Releases Oil Industry’s ‘Energy Citizen’ E-mail on P.R. Rallies

It’s obvious that Greenpeace was not just accidentally omitted from the routing slip when American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Jack Gerard sent out his July “Energy Citizen” e-mail kicking off a planned post-Labor Day effort to defeat climate change legislation on Capitol Hill.

But the activist environmental organization, while itself opposing the House-passed Waxman-Markey bill serving as the foundation for legislation, had no trouble making hay of the “Dear API Member Company CEO/Executive” would-be confidential mailing.

Greenpeace U.S. Executive Director Phil Radford couldn’t resist a “Game plan known” sign-off in a letter to Gerard noting the latter’s hopes to keep the “sensitive” PR strategy tightly held: “Please treat this information as sensitive and ask those in your company to do so as well,” Gerard had written. “We don’t want critics to know our game plan.”

In his August 12 letter to API, which Greenpeace quickly made available to media, Radford asked a number of questions which are scarcely likely to elicit an API response, let alone real answers. He wanted to know which member companies are funding the effort, particularly given that some are part of broad organizations publicly supporting a cap-and-trade bill. “Can you explain the contradictory objectives of supporting cap-and-trade on one hand and working to defeat it on the other?” Radford deadpanned, fully knowing his letter likely will never be answered.

The API e-mail calls for “‘Citizen Energy’ rallies in about 20 states across the country during the last two weeks of Congress’s August recess,” perhaps not unlike the boisterous “town hall” health reform sessions that have garnered so much media attention during the first two weeks of August.

“The objective of these rallies is to put a human face on the impacts of unsound energy policies and to aim a loud message at those states’ U.S. senators to avoid the mistakes embodied in the House climate bill and the Obama administration’s tax increases on our industry,” Gerard wrote.

He pointed in his e-mail to two suggested areas of focus: “adverse impacts of unsound energy policy,” such as tax increases and access limitations, on jobs, and on energy costs, and a call for the Senate, in considering climate legislation this fall, to “get it right.” He cited polling data that he said suggests a “softness” for the House bill and “very strong opposition when people are educated about the potential job losses and energy cost increases.”

Reporting on the latest Greenpeace/API flap, Washington Post reporter David A. Fahrenthold noted that “Greenpeace activists said they saw parallels to the health-care debate, where opponents of reform – including some organizations that receive heavy funding from industry groups and individuals – have organized efforts to shout down lawmakers at ‘town hall’ meetings.” (Some close media watchers couldn’t help but notice that the API memo didn’t make the cut as news for The New York Times until August 19, when it covered the first of the meetings, in Houston.

The API e-mail points to the following “tentative venues” for its planned, mostly noontime, rallies: Houston, Texas; Perry, Ga.; Detroit, Mi.; Roswell, N.M.; Greensboro, N.C.; Farmington, N.M.; Ohio (venue being finalized); Bismarck, N.D.; Tampa, Fla.; Sioux Falls, S.D.; Greenville, S.C.; Anchorage, Alaska; Joliet, Ill.; Charleston, W.V.; Fairfax, Va.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Lincoln, Ne.; Missouri (TBD); and Arkansas (TBD).

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