API, formerly and more accurately known as the American Petroleum Institute, is behind misleading full-page newspaper advertisements trying to blame the price of crude oil for the daily outrage at the nation’s gasoline pumps.
We’ve topped an average price of $3 nationally and are headed towards $4 in California.
The ad depicts a dollar bill sliced to answer the question, "Where does your gasoline dollar go?" It shows 56 percent for crude oil, 26 percent for refining & service stations and 18 percent for taxes. Strangely missing from the picture is any explanation of profits.
We are being ripped off at the pumps because of the outrageous profits being made by refiners. Big Oil is shorting the gasoline supply enabling the companies to make record profits on less revenue.
Big Oil’s game is made clear by the facts: prices at the pump are hitting record highs while the actual price of crude oil is lower than it was at the same time last year.
Government needs to regulate supply just like it regulates electrical power. That’s why we are calling for the California Legislature to convene a special session to tackle gasoline prices.
In fact, API seems somewhat embarrassed by its own ad. The only indication that it originates with Big Oil’s biggest shill is a tiny copyright line in the lower right corner. The type is smaller than the print used in newspaper stock tables.
Indeed, the ad is a classic example of an Astroturf campaign. That’s where the group behind the effort portrays itself as representing a grassroots movement when it does not. According to the ad, the message comes from "The people of America’s oil and natural gas industry." That’s an insult to the real people in the business.
In my book, the "people" of the industry are folks like the brave members of the teamsters union who stood up at ConocoPhillips annual meeting this week and warned CEO James Mulva that budget cuts are threatening plant safety.
The ad refers you to an Astroturf site, EnergyTomorrow.org. Once there, you can find a miniscule link to the folks behind the campaign, API.
At least when they called themselves the American Petroleum Institute you knew who they were and their point of view.