NYT: “The advice from a top American public relations firm was simple: A Canadian pipeline company should take aim at its opposition.”
“In detailed proposals submitted in May and August, the public relations firm Edelman outlined a plan to investigate groups that had opposed Energy East, a pipeline in development by TransCanada. Edelman urged TransCanada to develop its own sympathetic supporters and spread any unflattering findings about the opposition.
“We cannot allow opponents to have a free pass,” Edelman advised TransCanada, according to five documents that were obtained by Greenpeace, the environmental group. “To make an informed decision on this project, Canadians need to have a true picture of the motivations not only of the project proponents, but of its opponents as well.”
It is a critical time for TransCanada. The United States Senate is set to vote Tuesday on Keystone XL, the company’s other major pipeline project, which would link Alberta’s oil sands with the Gulf Coast of the United States. Even if the measure passes, President Obama is expected to veto it, citing the environmental review process. Environmentalists have opposed the pipeline, saying energy from the oil sands generates a significant amount of greenhouse gases.
The Energy East pipeline, which would carry oil sands production to eastern Canada, has similarly faced criticism over its environmental impact and the potential danger from oil spills. Edelman, in its documents, proposes a campaign directed at opposition groups like the Council of Canadians and the David Suzuki Foundation, as well as a small community group in Ottawa that usually fights for more bike lanes and park enhancements.
In its proposal, Edelman proposed “a perpetual campaign to protect and enhance the value of the Energy East Pipeline and to help inoculate TransCanada from potential attacks in any arena,” according to the documents. The language, at times, invoked a military battle, one that would “add layers of difficulty for our opponents, distracting them from their mission and causing them to redirect their resources.”
Edelman declined to comment on the documents, which were confirmed by TransCanada.
James Millar, a spokesman for TransCanada, said that the documents reflected recommendations from Edelman, which began working on the pipeline campaign in February.
Mr. Millar said TransCanada did investigate opponents and their claims. He confirmed that the company had followed Edelman’s advice to create a network of allies. But Mr. Millar said TransCanada had rejected Edelman’s recommendation of using third parties in a campaign against opponents.
With Energy East, TransCanada is proposing to convert a natural gas pipeline to carry the heavy, oil-bearing bitumen, from the oil sands to refineries in Ontario and Quebec. The two provinces, for historical reasons, largely rely on imported oil.
The company also plans to extend the pipeline farther east and build a tanker port on the St. Lawrence River near Cacouna, Quebec. That would allow it to also send oil to export markets including the United States.
The Council of Canadians has been warning communities along the project route that they could face the same sort of environmental devastation that hit Kalamazoo, Mich., after a pipeline carrying oil sands bitumen burst there in 2010. That pipeline is owned by Enbridge, which is based in Calgary, Alberta.
….Mr. Millar said that TransCanada mainly hired Edelman to help in Quebec, because it has few French speaking employees from the province. The documents indicate that Edelman’s efforts for TransCanada are being led by Mike Krempasky, the co-founder of the conservative blog RedState.com who joined Edelman in 2005. In the past, Mr. Krempasky has recruited bloggers and online commenters to post favorable comments about Walmart’s business and labor practices.”