EXCLUSIVE: BP Worked With FreedomWorks And The Chamber To Build ‘Grassroots’ Support For More Drilling

BP has long touted itself as a “green” company interested not only in oil and other fossil fuels, but in renewable energy like wind and solar. But as Rebecca Lefton reported on ThinkProgress last week, BP barely invests anything in clean energy — most of its green campaign is actually just a massive advertising gimmick to conceal the truth about the company.

While BP has spent hundreds of millions building its brand, it has offshored the dirty work of promoting expanded drilling to right-wing front groups and trade associations. In a 2007 PowerPoint presentation obtained by ThinkProgress, BP appears to have been interested in fighting to open up protected waters to new offshore drilling. The presentation, organized by the BP-funded front group “Consumer Energy Alliance,” was delivered at the American Gas Association’s marketing meeting in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. The presentation calls for a five-year plan to build grassroots support to open wide swaths of both the East and West coasts to new drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf:

— Slide 5 depicts a map of “undiscovered technically recoverable resources on Federal OCS” along the East coast, from Maine to Florida, and on the West coast, from Washington to California.

— Slide 7 notes that expanding OCS access “provides univeral benefits to all sectors.” The page pitches the campaign to aid both the oil and natural gas industry.


— Slide 9 lists the 5 year plan “strategic priorities,” including “military/veterans groups,” “energy consumers,” “editorial boards/letters to the editor,” and “academia & think tanks.”

— Slide 14 lists the groups involved in doing grassroots outreach. Under “affiliated groups,” FreedomWorks — a right-wing “grassroots” group that helped plan the tea parties and continues to lobby aggressively against clean energy reform — is listed along with the 60 Plus Association, the American Conservative Union, and others. U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute are some of the trade associations involved. Slide 14 also shows that BP is one of the member companies supporting the campaign.

Trade associations openly represent the needs of industry, so many industry groups like API have delicately tried to defend offshore drilling, but without explicitly defending the actions of BP. However, FreedomWorks portrays itself as simply a citizen-based group. In reality, FreedomWorks has a long history of orchestrating public support for its corporate and lobbyist backers.