The American Petroleum Institute Exposed: Their Hypocrisy on Bold Climate Action
Last week, President Biden and his Climate Cabinet got to work, taking swift climate action to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, undo the last four years of rollbacks, and lay the groundwork to build back better with clean energy. In response, the American Petroleum Institute (API), the oil and gas industry’s largest trade association, exposed their hypocrisy and provided us with a glimpse of their strategy to attack climate action.
At the same time they were “praising” President Biden’s decision to rejoin the Paris Agreement, API spread lies about the Keystone XL Pipeline and the impacts of drilling on our public lands. In addition, they started to run an attack ad from their “Energy Citizens” front group claiming that schools benefit from the very same royalty payments they tried to cut. Here’s a glimpse of API’s hypocrisy:
Track Record of Lies and Misinformation
- Misplaced priorities: API frequently touts the oil and gas industry’s efforts to lower emissions, even crediting “the industry’s leadership in reducing emissions to record low levels,” while rolling back limits on greenhouse gas emissions was at the top of their priorities list for the Trump administration.
- Misleading the public: API has faced consumer fraud lawsuits from Minnesota, Delaware, the District of Columbia, and Hoboken, NJ alleging they misled the public about the dangers of climate change. Responding to the suit, API’s lawyer said “The record of the past two decades demonstrates that the industry has achieved its goal of providing affordable, reliable American energy to U.S. consumers while substantially reducing emissions and our environmental footprint.” Recent research warns that emissions might rise by 30% by 2025.
Track Record of Misleading Ad Campaigns
- A “Climate Progress” ad campaign: API is running an ad campaign about a cleaner future while promising to fight any significant policies to address the climate crisis. API even recently lost a major oil member because it’s too out of step in its refusal to address climate change.
- Direct attacks on climate bills: We’ve seen this before. Just days before Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration, API CEO Jack Gerard said about climate change: “We intend to be part of the solution and look forward to a continuing dialogue on meeting this global challenge.” Then they ran a series of ads attacking climate change legislation, spent millions lobbying against it, and organized rallies in 20 states to oppose it.
- A “citizen” front-group for oil and gas: API’s Energy Citizens campaign is running an ad about oil and gas contributing to school funding, even though they lobbied to lower the rates that oil and gas producers pay towards local school budgets.
- “Real people” played by actors: API’s Energy Citizens campaign tries to frame their arguments in terms of real people, like “Ben” who was featured in an ad about oil and gas workers. Ben was actually played by actor Rigo Nova, who also played “Carlos” the bartender in the right-wing dystopian fantasy film “Obamaland Part 1: Rise of the Trumpublikans.”
Record of Supporting Climate Deniers and Election Objectors
- Follow the money: API claims to “support the ambitions” of the Paris Climate Agreement but gave more than $50,000 to House members who voted against sticking to the goals of the Paris agreement. They also fund the American Council on Capital Formation, which funded a widely panned study attacking the Paris Agreement.
- Backing right-wing extremists: API President Mike Sommers called the Jan. 6th attacks on the Capitol “heartbreaking” and “absolutely sickening,” yet Sommers personally contributed $5,600 to Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, whom Rep. Mo Brooks called “part of the team” trying to overturn the results of the election, and API contributed $133,500 to members of the Sedition Caucus. Sommers said “the parties responsible [for the insurrection] should be held accountable,” yet refuses to acknowledge his organization’s role in enabling the lawmakers who incited it.
- Spreading misinformation: API has U.S. Senators spreading its debunked talking point that “as a result of greater use of clean-burning natural gas,” the U.S. is “a world leader in reducing carbon emissions and other air pollutants.” In reality, the U.S. has cut a much lower percentage of its total emissions than other countries, largely because of API’s decades of deceiving the public on climate science and lobbying against climate action.
- Funding science denial: API claims to support policies that “continue to advance understanding of global climate change.” In reality, the organization funds groups and campaigns that peddle climate misinformation, discredit established climate science, and attack climate scientists.