CHICAGO, Illinois, February 14, 2005 (ENS) – A new organization is being founded this month in cities across the Midwest – Oil Addicts Anonymous – modeled after the multitude of successful 12 step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Organizers say, “The first step on the road to recovery is simple: admitting we have a problem. Join hundreds of patriotic citizens by taking the first step together.”

The first chapter was founded in Madison, Wisconsin on Wednesday by citizens who said they came together to admit that “we as Americans are addicted to oil” and are “ready to take responsibility for this harmful addiction.”

“My name is Austin King and I’m an oil addict,” declared Madison, Wisconsin Alderman Austin King. “Having recognized that we all have a problem here, we must work vigilantly to kick the habit. At the national level, we must hold corporations like Bank One and Ford accountable for keeping us hooked and enabling our oil addiction. At the local level we need to must work to stop suburban sprawl, support walkable infill development, and invest in public transportation, bicycle accommodations, and pedestrian safety.”

The United States consumes more oil and emits more greenhouse gases than any other nation on Earth, campaign organizers point out. With less than five percent of the world’s population, the United States consumes more than a quarter of the world’s oil. According to statistics from the Energy Information Administration and the United States Census Bureau, Americans use more oil per person than any other developed nation.

These facts are persuasive to many university students to want to help protect the environment. Two more chapters of Oil Addicts Anonymous were formed the Thursday in Illinois at the University of Illinois in Urbana and Illinois State University in Normal.

Organizers are in the middle of a 10 day hybrid car tour through the Midwest to help found chapters today in Richmond, Indiana; Tuesday in Detroit; Wednesday in Ann Arbor; and Thusday in East Lansing, Michigan.

The 10 day tour will culminate in Chicago with a weekend action summit cosponsored by the University of Chicago ECO aimed at giving citizens the skills they need to intervene and break their oil addiction.

Rainforest Action Network is spearheading the campaign, and at least 15 other organizations are participating.

Sarah Connolly, an organizer with Rainforest Action Network’s Zero Emissions Campaign, says the campaign is targeting the Ford Motor Company because the overall average fuel efficiency of Ford’s fleet today is 18.8 mpg, last among the top six automakers.

“Under Bill Ford, Jr.’s watch, Ford Motor Company’s EPA fuel efficiency ranking has plummeted to an abysmal last place for five straight years,” said Connolly. “From subcompacts to SUVs, Ford’s current cars and trucks get fewer miles per gallon on average than its Model-T did 80 years ago. Gas guzzling is a dangerous addiction, and Ford Motor Company doesn’t know when to say when.”

The other immediate target of the campaign is JPMorgan Chase, a financial firm oil investments. “They financed the OCP oil pipeline in Ecuador, which transports heavy crude oil from Ecuador’s eastern rainforest region to the Pacific coast, damaging fragile ecosystems and communities along its entire route,” Oil Addicts Anonymous organizers point out.

In 2002, JP Morgan Chase was the largest financer of U.S. oil and gas companies, arranging loans worth more than $18 billion, representing more than a third of the market.

In August 2003, JPMorgan Chase was chosen to lead a consortium of international banks in the takeover of the Trade Bank of Iraq. The purpose of the Bank was to facilitate imports of much-needed equipment and supplies, while freeing up exports, particularly of oil.

Participating organizations include: Campus Greens, Four Lakes Green Party, Green Progressive Alliance, the Indy, Madison InfoShop, MASH, Peregrin Forum, Student Environmental Action Coalition, Student Peace Action Network, Students for Environmental Concerns-UIUC, Students Improving the Lives of Animals, VIP Environment, Wisconsin Environmental Jewish Initiative, and the Wisconsin Environmental Law Society.