Next week's "Energy Citizen" rallies: grassroots or Astroturf?

Starting next week a “grassroots” effort to block the climate change legislation that was working its way through Congress earlier this year is set to take off, starting with rallies in a number of cities, including Houston.
According to a memo reportedly from American Petroleum Institute president Jack Gerard, events will be staged throughout the country with financial support for logistics from API:


“The objective of these rallies is to put a human face on the impacts of unsound energy policy and to aim a loud message at those states’ U.S. Senators to avoid the mistakes embodied in the House climate bill and the Obama Administration’s tax increases on our industry,” according to the memo.

That human face will come in the form of employees of API member companies who are being recruited to attend the noontime rallies. ConocoPhillips has a link referring to the rallies on its Web site, for example.
In its blog this afternoon API is defending the rallies, saying they aren’t taking a cue from the confrontations that have arisen during the many congressional town hall meetings held in recent weeks over how to overhaul the health care system.

“These rallies are not going to be shouting matches between members of Congress and their constituents. Rather they are an opportunity for Americans–truckers, farmers, small business owners, energy workers, homemakers and seniors–to voice their dissatisfaction over the House climate bill, urge the Senate to get it right, and to stand up for the American Dream.”

Here at the Chronicle we’ve been asked to meet Monday with Anadarko President & CEO James Hackett, (like many companies they’re bussing workers down for the event)National Black Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Harry C. Alford and Houston-based Trucknation Owner & President Robert Garcia to talk about the events.