Cross-posted from Wonk Room.
The American Energy Alliance (AEA), a new polluter front group, is touring the nation to smear President Barack Obama’s clean energy reform agenda. Employees riding the “American Energy Express” bus are spreading the conservative lies that the American Clean Energy and Security Act will “cripple our sluggish economy.” AEA is the 501 c(4) offshoot of the Institute for Energy Research, a right-wing oil-industry think tank run by Robert Bradley, a former speechwriter for Kenneth Lay. E&E News reports that AEA’s “Energy Town Hall” bus tour pictures workers in hard hats:
The American Energy Alliance, which is affiliated with the conservative Institute for Energy Research, has begun a four-week bus tour to county fairs, sporting events and public meetings in several coal-reliant states. Representatives of the group will travel in a large blue bus carrying the slogan “Stop the National Energy Tax, Save American Jobs” and a picture of workers in hard hats. They will cross Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia and Virginia. Yesterday, AEA officials participated in a rally with another group, Americans for Prosperity, in Zanesville, Ohio; a day earlier, they visited a county fair in western Pennsylvania.
In fact, by attacking legislation that addresses climate change and our national dependence on fossil fuels, AEA is preventing a clean-energy economic boom. Laughably, AEA claims it has “no ties to any political party“:
AEA has no ties to any political party, and it has no interest in supporting the agenda of any particular political party.
AEA may be telling the truth that it has “no interest in supporting the agenda of any particular political party” — its only interest seems to be blocking progressive reform by spreading lies and distortions. However, AEA is tightly connected to the Republican Party and right-wing oil interests. In fact, all of its employees are former House Republican staffers:
- Thomas J. Pyle, AEA President, is an oil lobbyist and DeLay operative. Before joining the Institute for Energy Research and the American Energy Alliance, Pyle worked as a lobbyist for the right-wing oil giant Koch Industries, first in-house starting in 2001, and then at the Rhoads Group. In 2008 Pyle became a lobbyist for the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association. Previously, Pyle served as policy analyst for Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), Majority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives and as staff director for the GOP Congressional Western Caucus. Pyle started as a legislative assistant for radical anti-environmentalists Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA) and Rep. George Radanovich (R-CA). [Institute for Energy Research, Center for Public Integrity]
- Patrick Creighton, AEA Communications Director, worked for Bush and Pennsylvania Republicans. Patrick Creighton was the special assistant to Samuel T. Mok, the chief financial officer at the Department of Labor from 2004 to 2006. He then worked as a spokesman for oil and natural gas advocate Rep. John Peterson (R-PA) from 2006 to 2009, worked to elect Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA), then joined Thompson’s office until May 2009. [Institute for Energy Research, Legistorm]
- Kevin Kennedy, AEA Federal Affairs Director, promoted Alaska drilling under Don Young. After graduating from Union College in 2004, Kevin Kennedy worked for the Astroturf organization Arctic Power, which advocated drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In 2007, Kennedy became a legislative assistant for the corrupt Rep. Don Young (R-AK) and the House Committee on Natural Resources. He joined the Institute for Energy Research and American Energy Alliance in 2009. [Institute for Energy Research]
- Laura Henderson, AEA Spokesperson, served Shelby, Dole, and Tiberi. Laura Henderson was a former press secretary for offshore drilling advocate Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) from 2005-2009. Previously, she worked for former Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) and Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH). [Institute for Energy Research]
- Daniel R. Simmons, AEA State Affairs Director, is a Koch-funded GOP staffer. Simmons was the Director of the Natural Resources Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing network funded by Koch Industries, the American Petroleum Institute, and other corporate and right-wing organizations. Previously, Simmons was a Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, also funded by Koch. From 2001 to 2005, Simmons served on the staff of Rep. George Nethercutt (R-WA) on the House Natural Resources Committee. Simmons holds a B.A. in Economics from Utah State University and a J.D. from George Mason University School of Law, also supported by Koch Industries. [Institute for Energy Research, Legistorm]
Furthermore, AEA’s EnergyTownHall.org website is run by yet another former GOP House staffer:
- GOP.gov webmaster Nathan Imperiale runs EnergyTownHall.org. AEA’s EnergyTownHall.org was designed by NJI Media Group, part of Endeavour Global Strategies. Endeavour’s head, Sean Spicer, is a long-time GOP operative, including communications work for the House Republican Conference and the Bush White House. NJI Media Group’s president, Nathan Imperiale, served as Director of New Media for the House Republican Conference, building its GOP.gov website. [Twitter, 2/13/09; Endeavour Global Strategies]
AEA’s “American Energy Express” joins a field crowded by conservative oil and coal propaganda — the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity’s “Factuality” bus tour, the American Petroleum Institute’s “Energy Citizens” oil rallies, and the Americans For Prosperity “Hot Air” balloon tour.
UPDATE: At Free Advice, Institute for Energy Research economist Bob Murphy writes that Paul Krugman doesn’t understand tea party protesters because he doesn’t care about checks on government power like they do, and continues:
So, by symmetry,
I think people on “our side” should realize that the great masses of Americans who are for health care reform and climate legislation (and it pains me to not put scare quotes around those phrases) aren’t actually closet socialists who want to bring America to its knees.