API snags enviro group vet to take on new role as director of grassroots push

This is an interesting job change: The American Petroleum Institute (API), the oil industry’s biggest trade group, has hired the Nature Conservancy’s climate change organizer as its new grassroots director.

Deryck Spooner is now API’s senior director for external mobilization following his stint managing the Nature Conservancy’s climate change advocacy and outreach work, API announced Monday.

API said Spooner will coordinate efforts to “develop, mobilize and sustain a political infrastructure of individuals, groups and coalitions to advance priority advocacy issues with elected officials.” The move comes amid API efforts to rally members of the public against energy and climate change plans it believes would hamper domestic energy production and raise prices.

API last year was the driving force behind the launch of the “Energy Citizens” campaign that organized rallies and other actions to fuel opposition to cap-and-trade legislation.

API President Jack Gerard on Monday lauded Spooner’s “extensive experience” in political and issue campaigns. “He’s a veteran of coalition building and grassroots mobilization and will play a vital role in our advocacy work at a critically important moment for U.S. energy policy. We’re extremely fortunate to have him on our team,” Gerard said in a prepared statement.

Spooner said the new role involves an industry he came to know as a child.

“My father was a petroleum engineer in the oil business. I spent part of my childhood on the rigs. I know how important oil and natural gas are today and will be for the nation’s energy future even as the use of alternative energy grows. I’m determined to work hard to help ensure the nation’s energy policies reflect this reality,” he said in a statement.

Spooner worked for the Nature Conservancy for a total of five years in two stints dating back to 1999, an API spokesman said Monday.

Spooner hails from Trinidad and Tobago and lives in Washington with his wife of and their three children. He is close to completing a Ph.D. in political science at Howard University, API said in announcing his hiring Monday.