Meet The Gas Can Man Fueling Right-Wing Energy Agenda

Nevada media outlets failed to disclose the Big Oil interests behind a group offering  cheap gas in the state this week to mislead voters about Obama's energy policies, including the false claim that the administration's energy policies are responsible  for high gas prices. The bizarre stunts -- involving a walking, talking, anthropomorphic gas can -- were funded by groups largely financed by the Koch brothers, major conservative political donors who have significant oil interests. These groups are pushing policies that will benefit the Koch empire, not American consumers.

From the Associated Press:

Dozens of people lined up at a Reno gas station Tuesday to buy gasoline for $1.84 a gallon as part of a political event.

The cheap gas was offered by the Gas Can Man, a group funded by a [PAC called] Morning in America, focusing on energy policy. The conservative group Americans for Prosperity also funded the event.

A spokesman for the Gas Can Man told KOLO-TV that the event was supposed to remind voters that gas prices are high.

Spokesman Michael Findlay says that gas was $1.84 a gallon in the month of President Barack Obama's inauguration.

The Las Vegas Sun noted that as “people filled up their tanks, they stood in the shadow of AFP's campaign bus emblazoned with the slogan: Obama's Failing Agenda. One man registered voters.” The paper quoted an Americans for Prosperity representative claiming the stunt was an exercise in “citizen education”:

For the organizers of the event, the cheap gas offering wasn't a handout for those in need.

“It's citizen education,” said Nick Vander Poel, of Americans for Prosperity. “This is issue awareness. We're educating them on the issues.”

But the Las Vegas Review-JournalLas Vegas Sun, and local television stations failed to disclose in their reports that the Gas Can Man and the cheap gas-campaign dubbed the "Million Can March" is funded by oil industry barons pushing policies that, if enacted, would line their own pockets but do nothing to lower the price of gas (the Sun disclosed the Koch ties, but neglected to mention their role in the oil industry).

And the Associated Press and the Nevada media outlets failed to challenge the meritless claim that Obama's energy policies are somehow to blame for gas price spikes. Americans for Prosperity and the Libre Initiative, two of the organizations behind the events, are funded by the Koch brothers. Americans for Prosperity noted that “this event will highlight President Obama's failing green energy policies.” And on his Facebook page, the Gas Can Man advocates for the removal of “bureaucratic and legal barriers to responsible and efficient development of America's oil” and expedited construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

As experts for the libertarian Cato Institute explained, increasing the amount of domestic drilling would lead to “more profit for domestic crude producers rather than significantly lower gasoline prices for Americans (not that there's anything wrong with that).”

And a former economist for the American Petroleum Institute stated that the reason that gasoline briefly cost $1.84 when Obama was inaugurated was because “the world economy began to slow down and ultimately to experience a deep recession. This is one way to reduce oil prices, but not a very attractive one.”  

Pushing Keystone XL and these other initiatives won't lower gas prices for Americans, but they will distract us from implementing policies like fuel economy standards and funding for public transit that can help us reduce our dependence on oil from the Koch brothers and others.

Nevada's gasoline consumers deserve to be aware of the special interests behind that friendly neighborhood Gas Can Man. Unfortunately, the state's major media outlets appear to have failed to complete even a minimal amount of research, leaving many residents in the dark at the gas tank.