Liberal groups storm API lobby, air anti-industry ads to mark anniversary 

Source: Jennifer Yachnin and Nick Juliano, E&E reporters • Posted: Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Liberal groups used today’s five-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to attack the oil industry’s lobbying arm over the airwaves and in person.

Americans United for Change launched a new ad campaign calling out the oil industry for subsequent accidents following the Gulf of Mexico spill and promoting the renewable fuel standard.

The group also launched a new website,, that aims to serve as a clearinghouse for local news reports on oil spills and related incidents.

Separately, protesters organized by the group National People’s Action and other liberal groups apparently stormed the lobby of an office building in downtown Washington, D.C., this morning that includes the American Petroleum Institute’s headquarters and demonstrated on the sidewalk outside, based on photos distributed by the organizations.

An Americans United spokesman declined to provide a specific costs for the new television ads — which will air during Major League Baseball games in both Des Moines, Iowa, and Chicago tonight — and a full-page Chicago Sun-Times ad, stating only that spots would run into the six figures.

The 30-second ads center on comments API President Jack Gerard made in 2011, during which he discussed the Deepwater Horizon spill at a news conference.

“History will eventually judge what the ultimate outcome or the impact of the BP oil spill was. This clearly was a rare incident,” Gerard stated at the event, broadcast on C-SPAN.

The ads then go on to cite a U.S. EPA estimate from 2014 that states 14,000 oil spills are reported annually, before showing photos of other incidents like the 840,000-gallon contamination of Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in 2010.

In a version of the ad shown to Iowa viewers, American United encourages would-be presidential contenders to support the renewable fuel standard, while an Illinois version calls on local politicians to back a bill aimed at expanding the availability of ethanol blend fuels.

“It comes down to this: the more Big Oil drills, the more they spill,” Americans United President Brad Woodhouse said in a statement. “The BP disaster anniversary should serve as a sobering reminder to our leaders that our nation’s dependence on oil takes a terrible toll on the Earth and its inhabitants. It’s a reminder why we can’t turn our back on renewable fuels that have been a win-win-win for the environment, for public safety, and the economy.”

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., this morning, protest organizers said 750 demonstrators were at API’s headquarters, but that number could not be independently verified. Calls for comment to API, the protest organizers and the local police were not returned by in time for publication.

“Big oil has dictated our public policy for too long, with communities of color bearing the brunt of toxic energy production. We need green jobs and clean power plans that give all communities, especially communities of color, a dignified, sustainable future. We will no longer sit by as oil-soaked profiteers line the pockets of the 1% and leave us to clean up the mess,” said George Goehl, executive director of National People’s Action, in a news release today. “The people are putting polluters like American Petroleum Institute on notice. Their time is up and the era of green energy is here.”

API spokesman Reid Porter dismissed the criticisms in a statement to Greenwire this afternoon.

“More and more people now recognize that America is leading the world in reducing greenhouse gasses, with carbon emissions near 20-year lows thanks to abundant natural gas development and investments by our industry in zero- and low-emissions technologies. These investments are larger than those of the federal government and nearly as big as all other industries combined,” Reid said.

He added: “Not only are we fueling a cleaner economy, we are becoming an energy superpower and creating millions of new jobs here at home. Low cost energy is also creating a manufacturing renaissance and an opportunity economy that will benefit all Americans.”