The Natural Gas Goliaths seem to be smarting a bit from the efforts of real grassroots fractivist groups. Yes, this is a battle of David vs Goliath. In this round, the Goliath’s weapon of choice is to throw poop and whine about lobbying money.
The Associated Press ran “Celeb fracking group not registered” story and it was quickly picked up by the Natural Gas minions. The story points out the group, Artists Against Fracking is not a registered lobby in New York state and from the “TAKE ACTION” page it urges people to Contact Governor Cuomo. This supposedly means Artists Against Fracking is engaging in lobbying.
There are two categories to lobbying – Direct and Indirect.
Direct lobbying is defined as any attempt to influence legislation through communications with:
Any member or staff of a legislative body; or Any government official or employee (other than a member or employee of a legislative body) who may participate in formulating legislation, but only if the principal purpose of the communication is to influence legislation.
Direct lobbying also includes attempts to influence the general public on a measure that is the subject of a ballot initiative, referendum or similar process; in that case, the general public is deemed to be the “legislator.”
To be considered direct lobbying, a communication must:
- Refer to specific legislation; and
- Reflect a view on the legislation.
Indirect lobbying is an attempt to influence legislation by influencing public opinion. To be considered lobbying, a communication must:
- Refer to specific legislation;
- Reflect a view on the legislation; and
- Encourage the recipient to take action with respect to such legislation — that is, it includes a “call to action.”
A “call to action” communication includes any one or more of the following: The communication states that the recipient should contact
(1) a member or employee of a legislative body, or
(2) any other government official or employee who may participate in the formulation of legislation, if the principal purpose of the contact is lobbying (direct call to action).
The communication states the address, telephone number or similar information of a legislator or an employee of a legislative body. The communication provides a petition, tear-off postcard or similar material for the recipient to communicate with any such individual (direct call to action).
The communication specifically identifies one or more legislators who will vote on the legislation as:
(1) opposing the organization’s view with respect to the legislation,
(2) being undecided with respect to the legislation,
(3) being the recipient’s representative in the legislature, or
(4) being a member of the legislative committee or subcommittee that will consider the legislation. However, merely naming the main sponsors of the legislation for purposes of identifying the legislation does not constitute encouraging the recipient to take action (indirect call to action).
Under New York law, however, it appears Artists Against Fracking is required to be a registered lobbyist because the law hinges on spending over $5,000. The group hasn’t filed lobbying reports, so the amount it has spent and what it was spent on isn’t known publicly. Experts in Albany say the website and public events appear to have cost well over $5,000.
In true Monkey See Monkey Do fashion, Energy-in-Depth (EID), the public relations project of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), attempts to throw some poop too. EID claims the Parks Foundation has contributed about $562,000 to fracktivist groups since 2009. This amounts to approximately $187,000 per year from 2009-2012 spread over multiple groups.
Let’s compare this to the lobbying money spent by IPAA and the American Petroleum Institute (API).
Per OpenSecrets.com, IPAA and API lobbying expenditures at the Federal level:
The combined expenditures of IPAA and API is $26,823,936, with an average of $8,941,312 per year.
Big difference in lobbying money between Goliath and David, huh?
Energy-in-Depth may run afoul too
According to IPPA’s letter to members and colleagues of June 5, 2009: (Emphasis added)
For months, IPAA’s government relations and communications teams have been working around-the-clock on a new industry-wide campaign – known as “Energy In Depth” (www.energyindepth.org) – to combat new environmental regulations, especially with regard to hydraulic fracturing. And, we’re seeing some outstanding results. IPAA Vice President of Government Relations Lee Fuller and Vice President of Public Affairs Jeff Eshelman are working on the “Energy In Depth” campaign that has garnered the attention of national news outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Reuters, the Associated Press, National Public Radio and more. The cooperating regional and state associations have been an integral part of this national campaign and they are working closely with their news media and policymakers using coordinated messages.
The “Energy In Depth” project results from the realization that American production opponents are spending millions of dollars throughout the country. This project is a major initiative to respond to those attacks. It reaches into the new communications tools that are becoming the pathway of choice in national political campaigns. It connects IPAA at the federal level to state associations and member companies across the nation.
My research has turned up no lobbying registration for Energy-in-Depth at the federal or state level, yet according to IPAA’s letter, EID was formed to “combat new environmental regulations, work closely with policy makers using coordinated messages, is involved in national political campaigns and connects at the federal level.
In 2012, EID-Ohio (division of EID operating in Ohio), launched a Voters Info Guide. (emphasis added)
The guide, available at www.eidohio.org/energy-in-depth-campaign-microsite-home/ is designed to connect voters with information on the positions of candidates seeking the offices of U.S. President, U.S. Senate, U.S. House and Ohio house and senate. It also provides easy access to previous guest posts elected leaders and candidates have penned for EID Ohio.
EID-Ohio did “INDIRECT LOBBYING”, yet they are not a registered lobbyist.
Why the Poop Throwing?
In a dollar to dollar matchup, fracktivist groups are far behind, be it in “lobbying” or “public relations”, yet the “Goliaths” are lagging on the public messaging end. For some reason, the general public isn’t buying into the coordinated messaging of the natural gas industry and their corporate members.
Goliath is outspending David in just lobbying by approximately $8.7 million per year. If commercials, ads, a multitude of websites, front groups, lobbying, and campaign donations are working for the Goliaths, they are left with throwing poop, and what better target than to throw poop at celebrities?
What this poop throwing does show is the “DAVIDS” are making a significant difference in the issue of fracking. People are paying attention to “David” and ignoring “Goliath”.
Looking at the poop throwing, lobbying and other expenditures by Goliath is a good metric to gauge how well fractivist groups are doing. If fractivist groups were not making a difference, would the Natural Gas industry be thowing poop and spending this much money? Take a bow Artists Against Fracking, its obvious YOU are making a difference.
Artists Against Fracking have stated they will register as lobbyists if it is necessary to continue their work. Will Goliath’s front groups do the same?
- Energy-in-Depth (EID) “GAS”roots – 1
- Energy-in-Depth (EID) “GAS”roots – 2
- Energy-in-Depth (EID) “GAS”roots – 3
- HBW Resources, The Frack Pack
- IPAA PR Campaign Attempts to Make Soup
- IPPA Attack Parrot Strikes Again – Energy-in-Depth Regurgitates
- Connecting the Dots Introduction
©2013 by Dory Hippauf