Leave it to Washington's top attack-dog lobbyist Richard Berman to verify what many always suspected: that the oil and gas industry uses dirty tricks to undermine science, vilify its critics and discredit journalists who cast doubt on the prudence of fossil fuels.
In a speech at an industry conference in June, surreptitiously recorded by an energy executive, Rick Berman, the foremost go-to guy for Republican smear campaigns, gave unusually candid advice to a meeting of drilling companies.
“Think of this as an endless war,” he told executives in a speech, which was leaked to The New York Times by an attendee at the conferenece who was offended by Berman's remarks.
“And you have to budget for it.” He said the industry needs to dig up embarrassing tidbits about environmentalists and liberal celebrities, exploit the public’s short attention span for scientific debate, and play on people’s emotions.
“Fear and anger have to be a part of this campaign,” Berman said. “We’re not going to get people to like the oil and gas industry over the next few months.”
Berman also advised that executives continue to spend big. “I think $2 to $3 million would be a game changer,” he said. “We’ve had six-figure contributions to date from a few companies in this room to help us get to where we are.”
But always cover your tracks, he suggested, adding that no is better equipped at doing so than his firm. “We run all this stuff through nonprofit organizations that are insulated from having to disclose donors. There is total anonymity,” he said. “People don’t know who supports us. We’ve been doing this for 20-something years in this regard.”
Berman, whose tobacco ties were profiled yesterday by DeSmog contributor John Mashey, is the founder and chief executive of the Washington-based Berman & Company consulting firm. He attended the conference in Colorado, hat in hand, looking to raise money from energy companies for an advertising and public relations campaign he started called Big Green Radicals.