The annual event included addresses by American Petroleum Institute, American Gas Association, and the National Mining Association. During API President Jack Gerard’s speech, the activists yelled “mic check” and fact-checked the oil lobby. “Big Oil’s lies are hurting Americans, our economy, and our environment,” the group shouted. “API spends hundreds of millions of dollars corrupting our democracy. … Big Oil is raking in record profits at the expense of the American people.”
One of the protesters described her experience:
We all stood up. Our voices combined were deafening in that small room. I could see Gerard fuming under his smug grin. We were hurried out by Suits with nervous demeanor, but not before we were able to get a few powerful last words in. This was Big Oil’s crown-jewel forum – they’d been advertising this forum on NPR and even their top PR officials were talking it up online. It was clear they were embarrassed and totally caught off guard.
But this will not be the last one Big Oil hears from us. Oh no. We’ll be visiting them again and again, speaking truth to the lies, corruption, and corporate greed of dirty energy, and replacing it with a vision of transparent democracy and a just, clean energy future.
While the protesters promise to return, API is deploying an election-year “Vote 4 Energy” campaign to promote “drill, baby, drill” and deliver on its threat that rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline has “huge political consequences” for the president.
And yet, youth activists have spread the 99 percent’s environmental message across the world, recently. Thousands of protesters fought successfully against the Keystone XL pipeline, and youth voices grabbed attention at the Durban climate conference last month. Now, the 99 percent are taking that message directly to the doorstep of the oil industry.