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Consumer Energy Alliance

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

The Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) is a nonprofit organization and a front group for the energy industry that opposes political efforts to regulate carbon standards while advancing deep water and land-based drilling for oil and methane gas. The CEA supports lifting moratoria on offshore and land-based oil and natural gas drilling, encourages the creation and expansion of petroleum refineries and easing the permitting process for drilling. The group also says it supports energy conservation. CEO portrays itself as seeking to ensure a "proper balance" between traditional non-renewable and extractive energy sources and alternative energy sources. The group also supports construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.[1][2][3]

According to Salon.com, which obtained over 300 emails of personal messages between lobbyists and Canadian officials, the CEA is part of a sophisticated public affairs strategy designed to manipulate the U.S. political system by deluging the media with messaging favorable to the tar-sands industry; to persuade key state and federal legislators to act in the extractive industries' favor; and to defeat any attempt to regulate the carbon emissions emanating from gasoline and diesel used by U.S. vehicles.[4]

Formation and history

The CEA was created in the late 2000s by Michael Whatley, a founding partner of a Washington, D.C.-based Republican lobbying group HBW Resources that has close ties to the Alberta, Canada tar sands industry. In a January 25, 2010 pro-industry strategy proposal to an Alberta government official, Whatley wrote that he was interested in "conducting a grassroots operation" in "target states" that would "generate significant opposition to discriminatory ow carbon fuels standards" that were created to address climate change. Whatley created the CEA with backing from big energy producers BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Marathon, Shell and the Norwegian energy company Statoil. Despite it's backing by big corporations, the group claimed it provided "a voice for consumers interested in vital public issues."[5]

A December 15, 2011 article in Salon.com reported that

In August 2009, it began running a series of slick radio and TV ads in Tennessee, Montana and the Dakotas, warning that such policies “threaten thousands of American jobs” and “would be disastrous for American consumers.” Each ad instructed viewers to complain to their state’s representatives in Congress, providing phone numbers to make it easier.[6]

E-mails obtained under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act reveal the relationship between the Consumer Energy Alliance and the energy industry, and show the group is part of a coordinated astroturf strategy to create an echo chamber putting forth pro-industry messaging. [7]

Board of Directors

The CEA's Board of Directors includes lobbyists for extractive energy industries:

  • David Blackmon, Director of Government Affairs (lobbyist) for the El Paso Corporation, a methane gas drilling and pipeline company based in Houston, Texas. Blackmon previously served as Communications Manager for Shell Oil Company. [8][9]
  • Dave Harbour, Executive Director of the Consumer Energy Alliance of Alaska. He coordinated public relations strategies for two dozen gas pipeline members of Arctic Gas Consortium the lobby Congress to support passage of the Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Act of 1976.[10]
  • David Holt, President (and a managing partner at the oil and energy industry lobbying group HBW Resources) [11]
  • John Heimlich, formerly with United Airlines financial planning
  • Melissa Taldykin, formerly of the Carlyle Group
  • Rich Moskowitz, a lawyer for the trucking industry [12]

Energy industry supporters/affiliates of CEA


Sourcewatch resources

External resources

Contact

Consumer Energy Alliance
2211 Norfolk
Suite 614
Houston, Texas 77098
713.337.8800
info@consumerenergyalliance.org

References

  1. Consumer Energy Alliance CEA Encouraged by passage of of Legislation to Move Forward Keystone XL Project, news release posted on organizational website, undated, accessed December 19, 2011
  2. Consumer Energy Alliance CEA Applauds Passage of Keystone XL Legislation, news release, undated, accessed December 19, 2011
  3. Consumer Energy Alliance Supporting Thoughtful Utilization and Development of Energy Resources (pdf), organizational/promotional brochure, accessed December 19, 2011
  4. Geoff Dembicki Big Oil and Canada Thwarted U.S. Carbon Standards, published article, December 15, 2011
  5. Geoff Dembicki Big Oil and Canada Thwarted U.S. Carbon Standards, published article, December 15, 2011
  6. Geoff Dembicki Big Oil and Canada Thwarted U.S. Carbon Standards, published article, December 15, 2011
  7. Geoff Dembicki Slide Show, copies of internal emails obtained through FOIA by Salon.com, Salon.com, accessed December 19, 2011
  8. El Paso Profile Overview, corporate website, accessed December 19, 2011
  9. Consumer Energy Alliance David Blackmon, biosketch, accessed December 19, 2011
  10. Consumer Energy Alliance Dave Harbour, APR, biosketch, accessed December 19, 2011
  11. LinkedIn David Holt, Professional profile, accessed December 19, 2011
  12. Consumer Energy Alliance Board of Directors, organizational website, accessed December 19, 2011