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New TV ad exposes Saudi oil money bankrolling RFS smear campaign

By Americans United for Change | May 01, 2014

Pro-renewable fuel standard, pro-American jobs groups Americans United for Change and VoteVets.org held a press call April 30 to reveal damaging IRS documents showing that Saudi oil money is clearly helping finance the millions of dollars worth of smear ads that the “American” Petroleum Institute is waging against ethanol and RFS. Americans United for Change announced it is launching a Sunday show TV blitz to help educate the public and decision makers in Washington about who is really behind the anti-RFS campaign and why: foreign oil interests that want to keep America dependent on their dirty energy product. “The Kingdom” will air May 4 during “Meet the Press,” “Face the Nation,” “This Week,” and “Fox News Sunday” in the D.C. media market aimed at opinion elites and the ultimate decision makers behind the EPA’s RFS proposed rule. Watch it here.

As the EPA weighs the nonexistent pros and the many, many cons of their proposed rule to gut the RFS, which determines how much renewable fuels should be mixed with gasoline and diesel, Americans United for Change has been aggressively underscoring the consequences for the environment, rural economies, national security, American jobs, and all American consumers if Washington ultimately gives Big Oil what it wants: crippling its cheaper, cleaner renewable fuels competition. “The Kingdom” follows three previous Americans United TV ads in support of the RFS, “Bottom Line,” “Simple Choice” and ‘Why Mess With Success?” and its digital ad campaign “Big Oil Is the Real Winner,” fighting back against the oil industry’s lies.

“API’s agenda is very simple and very greedy: they want EPA to cut the amount of renewable fuel in gasoline while raising the amount of crude oil,” said Brad Woodhouse, president, Americans United for Change. “This is about market share, plain and simple. You see, for every gallon of renewable fuels that is blended into gasoline, it’s one less gallon of gasoline the oil industry can sell. And since the United States already consumes far more oil than we can produce, all of that additional oil will have to be imported. Oil demand goes up, which means prices go up, and consumers send more of our paychecks overseas.  So we decided to follow the money, and based on what we found, American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard ought to be using air quotes whenever he utters his outfit’s name. Today, we are releasing tax documents which reveal that—going back to at least 2008—Saudi Aramco has been a major funder of the API, and actually held a seat on the Board of Directors. In case you aren’t familiar, Saudi Aramco is the state owned oil company of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and is by some estimates the most valuable company in the world. It’s worth about $7 trillion, according to the Financial Times, and is roughly 15 times larger than ExxonMobil. The Washington Post reported in 2012 that the largest dues paying members of API were likely paying around $20 million per year—and Saudi Aramco is almost certainly in that category. Curiously, API’s website says they are governed by a Board of Directors, but they don’t disclose the membership of their board. However, buried in the documents that API filed with the IRS, we found that in 2010 and 2011, a man named Tofiq Al-Gabsani served as a member of API’s board. Mr. Al-Gabsani is the CEO of something called “Saudi Refining, Inc” … which is a subsidiary of Saudi Aramco. We unearthed documents that Mr. Al-Gabsani filed with the Justice Department. These documents show that Mr. Al Gabsani was a registered foreign agent on behalf of Saudi Aramco AND the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the same time he was sitting on the Board of Directors of the American Petroleum Institute helping steer their resources … funded with Saudi oil money … into various political campaigns and attacks against the renewable fuel standard. Additional documents—which have only very recently become available online, covering the year 2012—show that Mr. Al-Gabsani has been replaced on API’s board by Nabeel Amudi, who is the CEO of Aramco Services, another subsidiary which shares an address in Houston with Saudi Refining Inc. So this is deeply troubling. Here you have a lobbyist for the Saudi King helping call the shots at the American Petroleum Institute. They’re funneling Saudi Oil money into a campaign to force us all to buy more Saudi oil, and passing it off as American as apple pie. They recently launched a campaign called “America’s Energy, America’s Choice,” and by that they mean “Saudi’s Energy, America’s Dependence.”  We think the American people deserve to know what is happening here. And that’s why we’re launching a full court press this Sunday, buying ads during all four of the major network Sunday shows to run a very powerful new ad that makes it clear exactly who is behind this campaign to kill America’s renewable fuel industry, and why they are doing it. And that’s why we’re calling on API to disclose the full, current membership of its Board of Directors. If you are still taking Saudi oil money, be honest about it. Don’t hide it anymore. We’re also calling on Saudi Aramco to disclose how much money it has contributed in the last five years, including its subsidiaries, to the American Petroleum Institute and other front organizations. People have a right to know.”

Jon Soltz, Iraq War veteran and co-founder and chairman of the 400,000-plus supporter veterans group, VoteVets.org, said, “There’s nothing ‘American’ about the way the ‘American’ Petroleum Institute is doing business. They’re fighting to block competition from U.S. businesses, and they’re doing it with Saudi Aramco’s trillions in oil dollars. Saudi Arabia is our ally and our strategic partner. We mean no disrespect. But this is our country, and Americans should be the ones to decide our energy future. I hope that the research we’re releasing today will give some folks in Congress and at the EPA some pause. Look where the money is coming from and what’s really behind this. Are you going to stand for America’s jobs and security, or someone else’s? Would you rather we depend on the Midwest, or the Mideast? The fact is, this is a major national security issue. Our oil dependence drives up the global price of oil and lines the pockets of regimes in Iran and elsewhere that fund terrorism and attacks against our troops—even when we don’t buy oil from them directly. We think consumers and voters deserve to know where all of these dishonest attacks on American-grown renewable fuel are coming from.”

 

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