The American Petroleum Institute and Their Misinformation Ad Campaign

Desperate times call for desperate actions and the oil and natural gas industries are desperate – for you to like them, despite the fact they’ve contaminated our environment and benefitted from government largess.

The Best Recurring Villains Are Polite, Civil And Completely Sane

The Oil, Coal and Natural Gas industries are under fire from an awakening public who are finding out that much of what we’ve been told has been fabricated and distorted.  They have scrambled to keep the public off-balance to allay concerns following the BP oil disaster and more recently the contamination of air and water supplies by natural gas drilling using a method called horizontal hydraulic  “fracking”.  To cover their trail following these deadly and costly accidents that have employed their lobbying arm, the American Petroleum Institute or more familiarly, API, to do an image makeover

In case that API abbreviation might look a little  familiar to some of you, congratulations!  You are clearly paying attention when their ads come on between TV programs umpteen times a day.  API is part of the small print at the bottom of their ads that praise the advantages of oil and natural gas, like this one that boasts about the 9.2 million jobs that their industry provides. The entire small print reads: The Economic Impacts of the Oil and Natural Gas Industries on U.S. Economy: Employment, Labor Income and Valued Added.  PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP Sept. 2009. Sponsored by API

American Petroleum Institute

Image via Wikipedia


After noticing this and being the skeptical type that I am, naturally I question the veracity of these claims.  I suspect however that the bulk of the people who bother to watch these ads never give them a second thought.  But for some who do, especially middle-aged males, the attractive forty-something blond female actor dressed up in business attire who presents them is pretty convincing.

We’ve seen her trusting smile in other ads but she is perhaps most familiar to soap opera fans as con-artist Samantha Markham on As The World Turns from 1994 to 1996.   Her real name is Brooke Alexander and besides her stint on ATWT, she was a former beauty queen and like her contemporary, Sarah Palin, also served “in a correspondent capacity” on FOX News just a few short years ago according to her brief bio in Wikipedia.

I had a negative reaction to all of this so, setting out on a google search, I have compiled some facts that you can assimilate with information those API ads promote in order to have a more “fair and balanced” picture of what your you’re being duped into believing.

For instance, that one ad I linked you to earlier that claims the oil and natural gas industries “fuel 9.2 million jobs”.  I suspect they fuel more gas that comes out of their ass than they do the type that heats your home.  This 9.2 million figure first popped up in September of 2009 (read the small print under the ad), yet just 2 months prior to that in their own news release in comments they made before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee they inform us that these industries employ “nearly 1.8 million Americans and supports another 4 million jobs.”  That’s a difference of over 3 million workers.

Does anyone really think that 3 million jobs of any kind have simply materialized in this economic environment since late 2009?  And did you notice – they not only don’t employ 9.2 million AMERICAN workers but 4 million oil and natural gas jobs are positions outside their industry that they say they “support”.  And I would bet from the way they worded this that a lot of those 4 million jobs are not held by Americans in America.

Then there is this bodacious lying ad that twists most of what comes out of Ms. Alexander’s lovely mouth.  It starts off by insisting that “some in Washington want to impose unnecessary taxes on oil and natural gas companies”.  This distortion is followed by actors posing as ordinary people implying that this would create an undue burden on the economy and “send jobs overseas”.  Let me clear up the first part while you control your outrage over the latter part about outsourcing.

No one in Washington has the balls to impose a windfall profits tax on the oil companies like they should, much less suggesting one.  What this add is referring to is the $4 billion a year federal subsidy that our Congress gives away to the oil industry each year.  It’s the lame argument they and their sock puppets in Washington use to discourage eliminating this tax payer funded give-away.  Removing these generous grants, they claim, will be like a tax on them.   This from an industry whose record profits over the last year alone for the top five producers reached close to $75 billion, a total of $951 billion over the last 10 years.

And let’s be clear about one thing and “sending jobs overseas”.  Outsourcing by American corporations has been going on for two decades at least and not because the price of oil was a factor.  Cheaper labor markets are what attract American businesses overseas.  Removing $4 billion a year from the entire oil industry where that amount alone was what BP brought in last year should hardly make a dent in our job situation.  If it does then shame on Big Oil for not helping out in these tough times by taking a tiny hit on their bonuses and shareholder dividend payouts.  That’s obscene to scare American workers with such petty tactics so their own fortunes don’t see any reduction.

The latter part of that ad presumes also that most Americans understand energy policy and what is in their best interest.  If only that were so.  Polls are not a measure of what factual knowledge people have but a measure of what they think they know and what they feel. Though there are polls that show a lot of  “Americans agree: we need to produce more oil and natural gas”, there are also polls that show Americans more strongly favor an energy policy that promotes renewable energy sources and chooses a clean and safe environment over higher fuel prices.

There are 12 other ads that the API has spent a small fortune on to influence the short attention spans of most viewers.  You can view all 14 of them here.  You can be sure too that they are as equally hyped and misleading as the two I have singled out here.  It’s hard for the average consumer and citizen to make informed decisions when bombarded routinely with short, simplistic and misleading ads of this nature.  We all want to believe what’s most appealing to us rather than what’s in our best interest, and that is what the American Petroleum Institute is banking on.

2 responses to “The American Petroleum Institute and Their Misinformation Ad Campaign

  1. Very good post! I have come to the conclusion that anything coming out of the oil/natural gas industry is nothing but a pack of lies and until we demand and get an inside look at these companies, nothing will change. And now, congress is filled with their cronies.

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