The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
TransCanada Plots Dirty PR Campaign to Push New Pipeline
Burned by the public opposition to its Keystone XL pipeline, which has held up the project for six years, Alberta tar sands company TransCanada has laid out plans to prevent the same thing from happening as it clears the way to build its even longer and larger capacity cross-continental Energy East pipeline.
Greenpeace has leaked documents which reveal the company's secret strategy, much of which hinges on the same astroturf and dirty tricks tactics used by Rick Berman, whose smear campaign against environmentalists was exposed a few weeks ago by the New York Times. And the firm that prepared the strategy was Edelman, the world's largest public relations company, which earned itself a blizzard of unfavorable publicity last summer, both for its work for big-time climate deniers and its inept damage control. Edelman's clients included the American Petroleum Institute and the American Legislative Exchange Counsel (ALEC) and its previous work included an ad campaign for Keystone XL.
The documents, written between May and August 2014, don't merely suggest promoting the benefits of shipping tar sands oil from Alberta to eastern Canada for export to other countries. They also advocate for the company to “Add layers of difficulty for our opponents, distracting them from their mission and causing them to redirect their resources.” More than 50 Edelman and TransCanada staff would be devoted to the Washington D.C.-based campaign, some of which—primarily the positive PR part—has already been launched.
The plan hinges both on mobilizing public support for Energy East and discrediting opponents of the pipeline according to the leaked documents, which say "It is critical to play offence." The company would recruit 35,000 activists to carry their message to the public, claiming it recruited over a million in support of Keystone XL.
"It’s not just associations or advocacy groups building these programs in support of the industry," asserts Edelman in the documents. "Companies like ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell and Halliburton (and many more) have all made key investments in building permanent advocacy assets and programs to support their lobbying, outreach and policy efforts. TransCanada will be in good company.” Edelman refers to these third parties as "an echo chamber of aligned voices."
In addition, the documents suggest that the company "apply pressure—intelligently—on opponents, as appropriate,” and to "add layers of difficulty for our opponents, distracting them from their mission and causing them to redirect their resources,” using primarily outside parties to keep their fingerprints off the dirty tricks. They propose using public records, social media, and financial and legal databases to do detailed opposition research on environmental and citizen advocacy groups such as Ecology Ottawa, Avaaz, Equiterre, Council of Canadians and the David Suzuki Foundation.
“One of the lessons that we have learned on Keystone XL is the importance of holding opponents accountable for the claims they make," TransCanada spokesperson Shawn Howard told The Guardian of London. "Just as our shareholders and the business community hold our organization accountable for our actions, we too feel a duty to ensure that well-organized global opponents are held to the standard of accountability and transparency. We will not apologize for promoting the value of the industry. We are proud of this project.”
“They have hired the world’s largest PR firm because opposition to Energy East is growing,” responded Andrea Harden, the Council of Canadians’ Energy and Climate Justice Campaigner. “From overflowing town halls to provincial reviews and increasingly critical municipal and First Nation leaders, TransCanada is losing public support despite their heavy-handed advertising and desperate tactics.”
The Council of Canadians points out that Edelman’s Mike Krempasky is listed as the senior counsel for the project “responsible for the overall strategic direction and directly responsible for the success of the campaign.” Krempasky previously apologized when it was revealed he has used fake grassroots bloggers in a Walmart campaign. He was also one of the co-founders of the far-right Tea Party-aligned website Redsdtate.com.
Greenpeace condemned the tactics exposed in the documents it leaked.
“When oil companies create front groups to smear their opponents, they degrade democratic debate.,” said Keith Stewart, Greenpeace Canada’s climate and energy campaign coordinator. “Greenpeace may be fierce in the defense of our environment, but we put our names to our statements and publish the research to back them up. We expect oil companies to do the same."
"TransCanada is a multibillion-dollar corporation with the backing of the Canadian government, yet with all that in its favor, they still need Daniel Edelman’s campaign of distraction, disruption and dirty tricks to go forward with this pipeline.” said Greenpeace USA research director Mark Floegel. “Clearly, TransCanada and Edelman both know there's no good economic or social reason to build new infrastructure for dirty fossil fuels."
As The Guardian points out, "The documents contain only a fleeting reference to climate change—even though the world’s top scientists have found that most of the world’s fossil fuels must stay in the ground to avoid catastrophic global warming." Energy East would pump nearly 1.1 million barrels a day of the dirty tar sands bitumen oil, compared to Keystone XL's 850,000 barrels.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jennifer Molidor, PhD
Climate change, habitat loss and pollution are overwhelming our planet. Thankfully, these enormous threats are being met by a bold new wave of environmental activism.
Trump Makes Strange Claim About Water Efficient Toilets: 'People Are Flushing Toilets 10 Times, 15 Times'
President Donald Trump mocked water-efficiency standards in new constructions last week. Trump said, "People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once. They end up using more water. So, EPA is looking at that very strongly, at my suggestion." Trump asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a federal review of those standards since, he claimed with no evidence, that they are making bathrooms unusable and wasting water, as NBC News reported.
By Carey Gillam
Former Monsanto Chairman and CEO Hugh Grant will have to testify in person at a St. Louis-area trial set for January in litigation brought by a cancer-stricken woman who claims her disease was caused by exposure to the company's Roundup herbicide and that Monsanto covered up the risks instead of warning consumers.
A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.
"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."
The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.
My god, White Island volcano in New Zealand erupted today for first time since 2001. My family and I had gotten off it 20 minutes before, were waiting at our boat about to leave when we saw it. Boat ride home tending to people our boat rescued was indescribable. #whiteisland pic.twitter.com/QJwWi12Tvt— Michael Schade (@sch) December 9, 2019
Michael Schade / Twitter
At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.
The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.
Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.
"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."
Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.
Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.
"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.
"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."
The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.
Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.
- New Evidence Suggests Ancient Egypt Was Brought Down by ... ›
- Climate Change Could Set Off Volcanoes - EcoWatch ›
- U.S. Has 18 'Very High Threat' Volcanoes - EcoWatch ›
- Scientists Discover 91 Volcanoes Hidden Under Antarctic Ice Sheet ... ›