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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Oil Interests Fund 'Astroturf' Groups In Washington, Oregon

Astroturfing is when interest groups run a campaign that’s designed to look like it’s grassroots in nature.

A document obtained by public radio shows the oil industry is at the center of more than a dozen Astroturf groups in Washington, Oregon and California.

At the center of the effort is the Western States Petroleum Association in Sacramento. An internal PowerPoint slide shows WSPA has “activated” -- its word -- several “campaigns and coalitions” to respond to “aggressive anti-oil initiatives in the west.”

“That was just an attempt to sort of put on as single slide a graphical depiction for folks as to how many issues we’re involved in and the various coalitions that we’re working with to represent the industry’s point of view,” said Petroleum Association spokesman Tupper Hull.

The groups have names like Oregonians for Sound Fuel Policy and Washington Consumers for Sound Fuel Policy. Environmentalists have their own groups. Clean Fuels Jobs in Washington and Clean Fuels Now in Oregon.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."