Americans for American Energy
This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.
Americans for American Energy (AAE) is run by and operated out of a pro-energy lobbyist firm with offices in Colorado and Washington, DC called Policy Communications Inc.
AAE described itself as in 2006 as "a non-profit, grassroots-based organization dedicated to promoting public policies that encourage greater energy independence for America ... We have members, allies and supporters from the agriculture, small business, manufacturing, state legislative leaders and others from coast to coast," it stated.
More recently the group has dropped the claim that it is a grassroots organisation but instead refers to having "grassroots supporters".
Its domain registration was created in mid-March 2005.
- 1 AAE Run by Lobbyists
- 2 Investigating environmentalists
- 3 "Stop the War on the Poor" pro-drilling campaign
- 4 Funding
- 5 Labeling environmentalists as terrorists
- 6 Misleading email
- 7 Personnel
- 8 Contact details
- 9 Articles and resources
AAE Run by Lobbyists
The President and CEO of Americans for American Energy is Greg Schnacke who is also a Vice President at Policy Communications Inc, where he "helps lead Policy Communication's energy advocacy practice." Prior to his work as a lobbyist Schenke was Executive Director of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA).
AAE and Policy Communications Inc., are run our of the same address in Colorado.
In September 2008, AAE asked Congress to investigate "possible illegal coordination between U.S. Interior Department officials and several national environmental groups." At issue were contacts between staffers with the Department's National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) and the Wilderness Society and National Wildlife Federation -- groups AAE accused of "pursuing an anti-American energy political agenda."  According to Representative Rob Bishop, a Republican from Utah, the Interior Department's inspector general had already begun looking into the matter. Federal employees are generally prohibited "from using appropriated funds or their official positions to lobby Congress."  As the Deseret News noted, the probe "comes after the Interior Department ... found that officials at its Minerals Management Service engaged in sexual relationships with energy industry representatives, and accepted gifts from them." 
"Stop the War on the Poor" pro-drilling campaign
In July 2008, AAE -- along with the industry-funded civil rights group Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the conservative values group High Impact Leadership Coalition -- launched a campaign to "Stop the War on the Poor." The goal of the campaign was to increase U.S. domestic oil and gas production. 
The campaign was launched at a Washington DC rally on July 15, 2008. Rally speakers stressed "the need to expand domestic oil and gas production with the goal of reducing fuel costs for low-income households that feel a disproportionate pinch from rising energy prices," reported Greenwire. Signs at the rally included "My family needs affordable energy" and "Environmental groups don't feed my family." CORE has received funding from ExxonMobil. CORE's Niger Innis said the group favors "government spending on oil shale, coal and drilling on the continental shelf and throughout Alaska," because "when these resources are developed ... that is going to have a direct impact on the price of fuel." While some rally attendees told Greenwire about their difficulties "budgeting around today's gasoline prices," others "backd away from a reporter with a notebook. ... One woman, who declined to give her name, said she was demonstrating at her boss's behest." 
On its website in 2006 the AAE stated that it operated as a non-profit "social welfare organization" under IRS Section 501(c)(4). Contributions to Americans for American Energy are generally not considered deductible unless as they can be properly considered a business expense."
Americans for American Energy is funded by Pac/West Communications after receiving a three million dollar no bid contract from the State of Alaska to campaign for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Jim Sims, President of Policy Communications, is working with Pac/West Communications.
In an interview with Jeff Young from the Living on Earth program, a consultant from Pac/West, Tom Randall, referring to AAE stated that "Well, grass roots are very effective. We do grassroots political Campaigns. Every campaign for president has a grass roots component; because that's one of the ways you can reach people." Randall told Young that the group was essentially one employee paid by Pac/West. When this was put to Randall, he agreed; "Sure", he said.
- YOUNG: Is it really grass roots, though? I mean if a PR firm gets 3 million dollars to carry out a campaign, that's not what I think most people think of when they hear grass roots.
- RANDALL: It's grass roots if it gets a grassroots response, if other people in the grassroots join in, and that effort is multiplied, then you have a grassroots movement.
Labeling environmentalists as terrorists
The AAE website attempts to link environmental concerns to terrorism, with a petition on its website which states:
- AMERICA IS AT WAR!
- And The U.S. Naval Oil Shale Reserve is Under Attack!
- While Americans fight overseas defending America's access to vital energy supplies, we are under attack here at home.
- Liberal lawyers and environmental extremists are attacking the U.S. Naval Oil Shale Reserve, trying to prevent America from producing American energy there.
While the petition above has now been removed from the website, states that "American men and women are overseas fighting America's enemies and defending America's access to vital energy supplies in the Middle East. At the same time, there are battles right here at home that threaten our national security. Did you know that radical environmentalists and economic terror groups -- eco-terrorists -- are now attacking the U.S. Naval Oil Shale Reserve in Congress?".
In September 2007, AAE was embarrassed after it "inadvertently" sent around an email which incorrectly claimed that Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal supported its agenda. Freudenthal, who previously supported some "public education efforts" of AAE, told the Casper Star-Tribune that the group's recent email was "highly inappropriate" and "contains a description of initiatives which I wholeheartedly disagree with on a number of levels."
On its website AAE states that it is governed by a Board of Directors including
- Bill Vasey, a Wyoming Democrat State Senator as Chairman
- Aaron Tilton, a Republican Utah State Representative serving as Vice Chair
- Greg Schnacke as President and CEO
- Jim Sims, President
200 Union Boulevard, Suite 105
Lakewood, CO 80228
E-mail: info AT policycom.com
Email: info AT americansforamericanenergy.org
Articles and resources
Related SourceWatch articles
- "About Us", accessed June 2006. This page is no longer online or archived in the Internet archive but the original material was cut and pasted from the website by Bob Burton.
- "Our Mission", Americans for American Energy, accessed March 2008.
- "Americans for American Energy", Joker.com, accessed March 2008.
- Press release, "Congressional Probe Of Enviro Groups Urged Over Lobbying Of Interior Department Agency," Americans for American Energy, September 24, 2008.
- Lee Davidson, "Pro-energy group seeks probe of environmental lobbyists," Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah), September 25, 2008.
- Charlie Savage, "Sex, Drug Use and Graft Cited in Interior Department," New York Times, September 10, 2008.
- Jenny Mandel, "Industry group uses civil-rights theme in bid for expanded drilling," Greenwire (Environment & Energy Publishing, sub req'd), July 17, 2008.
- Jeff Young, " The ANWR Opinion Machine", Living on Earth, July 21, 2006.
- "America is at War!" Americans for American Energy website petition, accessed September 14, 2007. This has now been removed from the website.
- "Take Action Now!", Americans for American Energy, accessed March 2008.
- Dustin Bleizeffer, "Energy lobby exaggerated support: Freudenthal criticizes 'highly inappropriate assertions' in e-mail," Casper Star-Tribune, September 13, 2007.