More Big Oil Astroturf Across The Country: Missouri Front Tells Activists To Plant Anti-EPA Questions At State Fair

In June, ThinkProgress broke the story about the latest big oil front group, called the Iowa Energy Forum. The Iowa Energy Forum — with funds from oil giants like Chevron, BP, and ExxonMobil, and direction from lobbyists in DC — organized “grassroots” activists to appear at GOP primary events, lobbing loaded questions to candidates to get them on record supporting oil and gas public policy positions, like building the new Keystone XL pipeline from Canada through the United States.

The American Petroleum Institute, the umbrella lobbying organization for the oil industry, has apparently set up a number of other front groups focused on similar astroturf efforts as the Iowa Energy Forum. The Missouri Energy Forum, another API organization, sent an e-mail alert yesterday afternoon urging its staffers and activists to attend the Missouri State Fair to press public officials about opposing environmental regulations. The Missouri Energy Forum suggests that its supporters ask Rep. Blaine Leutkemeyer (R-MO) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) about the EPA’s new ozone regulations, because such regulations will supposedly “hurt Missouri’s farmers and business’s [sic].”

View a screen grab of the e-mail below (click to enlarge):

The oil industry has blanketed the country with millions of dollars in political advertisements for several years now to remind the public that the oil and gas sector creates jobs, and must never pay for its carbon pollution or lose its billions in taxpayer subsidies (view one of the many API advertisements here). But what kind of jobs is the industry creating? A brief search shows that API lobbyists have been busy hiring other state-based lobbyists to push a big oil political agenda in every corner of the country:


— The Keystone Energy Forum calls itself “a growing community of concerned citizens committed to two goals achieving energy security for our country and holding our elected officials more accountable in shaping energy policies.” Rather than being a group of “concerned citizens,” the Keystone Energy Forum is a front funded by the American Petroleum Institute and the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association to pushing the interests of the fracking industry. Bill Stewart, a former state legislator, is the head of the group, which was formed in January.

— The Florida Energy Forum hired Nicolás J. Gutiérrez, Jr., a lawyer who has worked with a number of trade association and is a partner at the firm Gutiérrez & Zarraluqui, LLP.

— The Northstar Energy Forum bills itself as a “community of concerned citizens throughout the state” of Minnesota. The language from the Northstar group is nearly identical to the API front in Pennsylvania, except for the word “growing.” However, the group does not disclose who actually works for the organization in Minnesota.