"What do you do when you want to push through a climate change-inducing, obscenely expensive fracked gas power plant in the USA's most climate threatened city?" asked "Gasland" director Josh Fox. "Well... pay actors to testify, of course!"
Fox's comments on the astroturfing are in response to recent reporting by The Lens that multiple professional actors were were paid to attend New Orleans City Council meetings to show support for a proposed Entergy gas power plant.
"We knew this to be true, but now it's been proven," said the Gulf Restoration Network.
According to 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, "This is a mind-boggling story."
The gigs involved attending city council meetings in October and February. The actors would either get paid $60 for sporting bright orange t-shirts that read "Clean Energy. Good Jobs. Reliable Power," or $200 if they got up to endorse the power plan and deliver a pre-written speech. They all had to sign NDAs, which listed "DG Consultants"—a business The Lens found no listing for; were given a clear directive to "tell nobody you're being paid"; were recruited and organized by men named Garrett Wilkerson and Daniel Taylor; and were "literally paid under the table" after the October meeting at a local Dave & Busters, a restaurant/arcade.
This is a mind-boggling story. The fossil fuel industry hired hundreds of actors to pretend they were citizens and testify at pubic hearings against renewable energy. And it worked.https://t.co/rSuPmMcWJY
— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) May 4, 2018
In a Facebook message seen by The Lens, Wilkerson said he was with a group called Crowds on Demand, though at the October meeting, he and Taylor indicated they were with a new organization called the Council for Responsible Governance. The Lens also found no listing of such a group.
The news outlet spoke to three of the actors, one of whom was wiling to give his name. One of them said he recognized 10 to 15 others sporting orange shirts at the October meeting as being local actors.
"They paid us to sit through the meeting and clap every time someone said something against wind and solar power," said Keith Keough.'
Read more: 'Mind-Boggling': Paid Actors Flooded City Council Meetings to Win Approval of Fossil Fuel Power Plant