By Jim Pickard and Kate Mackenzie in London
Published: August 15 2009 03:00 | Last updated: August 15 2009 03:00
A rift has broken out within the US oil industry over a plan detailed in a leaked memo to deploy thousands of workers in so-called "Energy Citizen" rallies protesting against proposed climate change legislation.
The American Petroleum Institute, which represents the US oil industry, has written to member companies asking them to "move aggressively" to stage up to 22 public meetings, similar to the recent protests against President Barack Obama's healthcare plans.
The move is supported by API's core members such as ExxonMobil, which has warned that the legislation could put US businesses "at a disadvantage" with global competitors.
But the plan is exposing splits in the organisation as some members belong to another group, the US Climate Action Partnership, which supports many of President Obama's environmental policies.
Shell, amember of UCAP, has argued that tackling climate change is "the pro-growth strategy" and told the Financial Times it would not take part in the rallies. Other companies belonging to UCAP include General Electric, Siemens, BP America and Conoco-Phillips. Yet all also provide funding to API.
"The truth is that the API is all over the place on this issue," said one oil industry source.
The memo was passed to environmental group Greenpeace in spite of the entreaties of author Jack Gerard, president of the API, to "treat this information as sensitive . . . we don't want critics to know our game plan".