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Yes Men Strike Oil

By Brandon Keim EmailJune 14, 2007 | 11:21:07 PMCategories: Climate, Energy, Politics  

Yesmen_2 Activist trickster collective the Yes Men used the Gas and Oil Exposition 2007 in Calgary, Alberta to stage their latest theatre of corporate absurdity, with Exxon/Mobil and the Natural Petroleum Council playing the fools.

The prank, intended as a critique of the fossil fuel industry's influence on energy policy, caused confusion and consternation on the final day of the Exposition, one of the industry's largest gatherings.

The NPC, which is led by former Exxon-Mobil CEO Lee Raymond, advises the White House on gas and oil issues. They were expected to  announce the findings of a Raymond-chaired study, commissioned by the Department of Energy, on joint US-Canadian energy policy.

Instead, attendees of the day's $45.00 keynote luncheon were addressed by the Yes Men's Andy Bichlbaum, who identified himself as an NPC representative named Shepard Wolff.

After noting that current energy policies will likely lead to "huge global calamities" and disrupt oil supplies, Wolff told the audience "that in the worst case scenario, the oil industry could "keep fuel flowing" by transforming the billions of people who die into oil," said a Yes Men press release.

Yes Man Mike Bonnano, posing as an Exxon representative named Florian Osenberg, added that "With more fossil fuels comes a greater chance of disaster, but that means more feedstock for Vivoleum. Fuel will continue to flow for those of us left."

The impostors led growingly suspicious attendees in lighting Vivoleum candles made, they said, from a former Exxon janitor who died from cleaning a toxic spill. When shown a mock video of the janitor professing his desire to be turned in death into candles, a conference organizer pulled Bonanno and Bichlbaum from the stage.

As security guards led Bonanno from the room, Bichlbaum told reporters that "Without oil we could no longer produce or transport food, and most of humanity would starve. That would be a tragedy, but at least all those bodies could be turned into fuel for the rest of us."

Noting that "150,000 people already die from climate-change related effects every year," he added, "That's only going to go up - maybe way, way up. Will it all go to waste? That would be cruel."

The Exposition's organizers later issued a press release verifying that "the "environmental and corporate ethics activists" were not representatives of their respected organizations. According to Calgary's CTV news, the organizers "were approached by what they thought was a reputable company offering speakers from the Petroleum Council." Only after the debacle did they contact the Council and learn of their mistake.

Members of the Yes Men have previously posed as spokespeople for McDonald's, the World Trade Organization, Dow Chemical and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Oil executives duped by impostors [CTV]

Exxon Proposes Burning Humanity for Fuel [press release]

Transcripts and video

Image: CTV

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