MORE CONSERVATIVE ASTROTURFING PLANNED…. I don’t doubt that conservatives hoping to defeat Democratic energy policies will come up with some creative attacks later this year. They’re hard to predict, of course, but I’m looking forward to lobbyists telling far-right activists that cap-and-trade is really about euthanasia. I can’t wait to see Sarah Palin write on Facebook about the Obama “cap and kill” plan. (Perhaps I shouldn’t give her ideas.)

Part of the plan, apparently, includes more astrotufring.

A leaked memo sent by an oil industry group reveals a plan to create astroturf rallies at which industry employees posing as “citizens” will urge Congress to oppose climate change legislation.

The memo — sent by the American Petroleum Institute and obtained by Greenpeace, which sent it to reporters — urges oil companies to recruit their employees for events that will “put a human face on the impacts of unsound energy policy,” and will urge senators to “avoid the mistakes embodied in the House climate bill.”

API president Jack Gerard warns in the memo, “Please treat this information as sensitive … we don’t want critics to know our game plan.”


Astroturf opposition to climate-change legislation seems to be the m.o. of the year for conservative corporate interests. We recently learned, for example, that a D.C. lobbying firm, working for the coal industry, sent bogus letters to Democratic lawmakers in opposition to the ACES bill. Support opponents couldn’t rally they simply invented. That it was a fraud didn’t seem to bother them.

And now opponents of climate-change legislation hope to pass off oil industry employees as regular folks, just expressing their concerns.

There’s one thing I don’t understand, though. It shouldn’t be that difficult for the American Petroleum Institute to find real, live far-right activists who oppose the bill. Most conservatives tend to reject the science and evidence on global warming anyway, and oppose legislation to address the crisis they think is a “hoax.”

Couldn’t lobbyists just get in touch with the Tea Baggers? Why go to the trouble of orchestrating a charade, when there are right-wing global warming deniers who’d probably volunteer?

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.