The Northern Virginia Tea Party bills itself as a “grass roots organization,” but the speaker for its upcoming workshop is employed by a slick lobbying group that represents the world’s largest oil and gas companies.

“The radical environmental movement poses a serious threat to our freedoms, our property, and our future, and we cannot afford to ignore it,” reads the invitation to the July 27 event in Falls Church, Virginia. “Come hear Virginia Energy Citizens State Coordinator Miles Morin elaborate on this important topic and equip yourselves to defend our access to the cheap, reliable energy that America needs.”

Virginia Energy Citizens is just one of more than a dozen front groups run by the American Petroleum Institute, the enormously powerful trade association that lobbies on behalf of the oil and gas industry.

Energy Citizens groups have been set up across the country to mobilize regular people to advocate on behalf of API’s policy goals, including drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf and approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

For the event later this month, Morin, who works at public relations firm with an office in Richmond, plans to speak about how environmentalists are trying to “smash America’s energy foundation.” Attendees will “Learn how to fight the radical green anti-energy blitzkrieg.”

The event is one of several organized by API this year filled with patriotic rhetoric. Vets4Energy, an API-sponsored “grassroots” group, has hired veterans to attend political events, handing out camouflage hats and talking up the importance of drilling as a national security imperative. Vets4Energy and the New Hampshire Energy Forum, another API-controlled organization, helped sponsor the Republican Leadership Summit in April, the kick-off event for the New Hampshire GOP primary.

But for all the talk of American interests, the American Petroleum Institute actually represents the interests of multinational corporations, many based outside the United States. API members include Statoil, BP, Shell Oil, TransCanada and Total. Khalid Alnaji, the president of Saudi Aramco’s U.S. subsidiary and a registered lobbyist on behalf of the Saudi Arabian government, has a seat on API’s board of directors.

(This post is from our blog: Unofficial Sources.)

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images