When faced with a PR battle, one of the fossil fuel industry’s tactics is to set up a supposed grass-roots organisation or “Astroturf” organisation.
So Citizens for the Environment had no citizens in it – it was just a front for big oil and other polluting industries. The Global Climate Coalition was also no such thing – it was just an attempt by big oil to undermine the UN climate talks.
More recently the American Petroleum Institute set up an “Energy Citizen” campaign that was mainly targeted at key politicians from the US Senate trying to prevent them adopting a similar Climate Bill to the Waxman-Markey Bill.
Energy Citizens calls itself a “nationwide alliance of organizations and individuals formed to bring together people across America to remind Congress that energy is the backbone of our nation’s economy and our way of life.” The reality is that it is just a front for big oil.
The oil industry has exported the tactic to Canada, the latest battle ground over big oil’s dirty impact with the tar sands. Hence we get the new website AlbertaIsEnergy.ca which was launched last week.
It was launched with a Calgary Chamber of Commerce speech by Dave Collyer, the President of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP).
It is Dave’s organisation – CAPP – that registered the website, but you wouldn’t know that if you looked at the “About Us” section of the site. In the “About Us” page it says: “We are bakers, mechanics, sales people, store owners, real estate agents, rig workers, engineers, bankers, truckers and more. We are the people that keep Alberta moving.”
As Jim Hoggan, co-founder of DeSmogBlog says: “That sounds wonderful. It sounds like this is a true, grassroots organization of everyday folks just trying to add a little common sense into the conversation. But that’s not who is behind this campaign”.
Apart from Dave’s organisation the full list appears later:
• Canadian Energy Pipeline Association
• Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors
• Small Explorers and Producers Association of Canada (SEPAC)
• Petroleum Services Association of Canada
• Calgary Chamber of Commerce
• Canadian Association of Geophysical Contractors
• Alberta Enterprise Group
• Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters
There is not a baker or banker to be seen.
This latest disingenuous effort is bound to fail and back-fire. The reality is that the oil industry is losing the PR war over tar sands – no matter how many fake web-sites they set up.
The latest person to attack the tar sands is Avatar director James Cameron who says Alberta’s tar sands are a “black eye” to his native country’s image.
“I think it’s bad, I think it’s the wrong solution for us to be doing greater and greater environmental damage pursuing a dead-end paradigm, which is fossil fuels, instead of spending those billions … on building wind turbines. Those same areas are a great wind belt and we could be generating … wind energy out of the same place. Why aren’t we doing that?” Cameron said yesterday.
With epic timing, Cameron’s 3D epic is set for release on DVD and Bluray tomorrow, which is also Earth Day.