Friday, July 09, 2010

If you oppose gas drilling, you must be in Big Oil's pocket

I have been saying for a while now that if anything good has come out of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, it is the cessation of those commercials from the American Petroleum Institute*'s propaganda arm, You know, the ones where the smartly-dressed lady (a former talking head from a cable news network, I believe) assured us that the majority of Americans agree that we need more oil and gas drilling, and anyone who opposes this or wants regulations on drilling is a filthy socialist commie. Haven't seen those at all lately, but maybe I'm just not looking in the right place.

I was watching CNN today and I caught a brief ad. It started off slamming the oil industry for the disaster in the Gulf, and then it segued into a warning: expect slanderous attacks on alternative energy - the energy that will Assure America's Energy Independence - from groups supported by Big Oil.

Yes, that sounds reasonable, I thought, as the name of the group or organization sponsoring the ad slipped past me. Especially in these days when the Roberts/Alito/Scalia/Thomas Supreme Court is hard at work actively defending the rights of fine upstanding corporate citizens like BP to exercise unlimited spending to support their free speech.

But then I got to wondering: who sponsored this ad? I missed it, so I'm not sure, but it certainly wasn't one of the better-known legitimate environmental groups. Instead the name had a vaguely euphemistic ring to it, like so many sponsors of issues ads. And more often than not, these euphemistic names are actually a cover for the fact that the group sponsoring the ad is in direct opposition to the impression you might get from hearing the name.

So who is sponsoring this ad? I don't know. Solar companies? Wind companies? I personally know of one anti-wind energy blog which was being written by someone on Big Oil's payroll (by his own eventual admission.) Nuclear power? That's a whole 'nother story there, kids. So says someone who lives within twenty miles of a 30+ year old nuclear power plant.

Natural gas drillers?

That would be reasonable. Natural gas drillers, like coal companies, see themselves as "alternative energy." And they maintain that their product will help ensure America's Energy Independence, while at the same time admitting that much of the extracted gas is being shipped overseas. Here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, once Coal Country and now Marcellus Shale Country, there is growing grassroots opposition to hydraulic gas extraction operations, commonly known as "fracking." Would it be at all surprising if the Big Gas companies were now trying to give the impression that such opposition was actually being bankrolled by Big Oil? Is the anti-fracking movement the real target of these new ads?

*What kind of Institute is this, anyway? Apparently they don't study things like "How to avoid and deal with deep-water disasters" or "Making sure industry members behave ethically."

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