avatar_cameronWhen 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.


  • Well, if he is going to learn, perhaps he could learn from the industry. He certainly takes the high ground; nothing wrong with that at all.

    The climate change we banter about is a real thing too. A large part of that is the Boreal forest we speak of in the Athabasca area are going to be gone across the map. Ontario is has looked for alternative crops or usage for their regions.

    As this moves forward, the tundra will give up more carbon dioxide in a day than the cars in north America do in a year!

    Sometimes, the high ground makes us feel as if we own it or have the whole picture where in truth the whole picture is just too big to grasp at a glance.

    In Alberta we have a Government that has the royalty rate so low we are actually paying them to take resource out of the province. Consider the Taxpayer is paying for their power lines water etc. and at some point will have to pay for the shutdown.

    I don’t think the Athabasca is escalating anything ; it is going pretty fast on its own.

    If I can work to get a new Government in here any number of positive things are possible. I’m pretty sure that can be done without trashing industry.

    The Tar sands are the only thing on this planet that kept Canada out of a major depression this last turn around! Know what you do before you trash industry. We have problems but they are with the Government who has chosen to leave us with nothing but a wasteland.

  • I think the point about not letting government leave you with a wasteland is well made.

    And I also think that the attention that Cameron brings to the combination of corporate power, government pockets, indigenous peoples , and society as a whole in terms of energy usage is an unbelievable opportunity.

    And here is another opportunity involving the lot: get a laugh and get heard httt://avatarsands.org

  • Can I ever tell the lobby groups are alive and well on this site!!!!

    1) junk jobs
    2) who is going to clean up the mess!!!
    3) and what investment in human capital!!!!!

    These jobs are temporary! There is approx a trillion barrels of oil in there, the world eats up approx 68 million barrels a day. How long for the world to eat this oil patch away. We have hit peak oil. Especially when we start boiling sand to get at the stuff – DESPIRATE!!!
    You know we are stupid when…

    What are we going to do with all these workers afterwards?

    And, who is going to clean up the mess. There are many many examples of big business leaving a mess for tax payers!!! (eg mining industry) as the profits dry up.

    I hope some of this money is invested into human capital. What I see from big boom times is cuts as the bust comes sooner or later. Cuts in education. Cuts in youth programs. Cuts in innnovation and R&D.

    We are completly stupid if we rely totally on resources. That’s what got the mid-east in so much trouble (growth of terrorism groups).
    I surely hope some of this easy money made off of resources is reinvested in human capital and knowledge growth. Not just more dependency! or we’ll just have a bunch of drunks!

    Use the tar sands with caution. Keeping in mind that natural gas will increase as we need to boil the fresh water with energy! SHhhh… natural gas is what you most likely heat your home with stupid!!!

    sometimes we are just dumb.
    I’d say wait until the world really needs oil. Then jack up the price tag on the stuff and invest heavily in human capital so we don’t scrw ourselves, again (ie fishing stock and other industries that have dried up)

    give us some investment in good jobs!!!! using our brains!!! Evolving!!!

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