Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

"Tar sands need positive spin"-- Diane Francis

Good to see Ms Francis up to her usual turgid nonsense.


Oil sands need positive spin

Diane Francis, Financial Post
September 19, 2009

Alberta and Canada have an image problem and it's called the oil sands. Non-government organizations such as Greenpeace and others have made these gigantic open-pit mining operations their current whipping boy. And by deploying hyperbole or inaccuracies, these organizations are winning the public relations game in the United States where the lion's share of this oil is destined.

"The world has changed. You have a big problem and it is going to get worse unless you get your story out there," said Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman, the world's largest independent public relations firm, to a gathering of oil and government officials at Alberta's Global Business Forum in Banff this week. "Once the facts are understood, there's acceptance of the need for oil sands oil."

For instance, California's environmentalists are calling for an outright ban on oil from Alberta's oil sands on the basis that it is unacceptably "dirty" even though most of California's crude oil is identical in terms of its environmental "footprint" or its emissions when refined or used.

Even so, most mainstream media believe the oil sands are a disaster. It has been dubbed "Canada's highway to hell," 28 non-governmental organizations vehemently oppose their development and one described it as "the most destructive project on Earth."

Edelman said such inaccuracies are harmful, if uncorrected across the blogosphere and other sites. To emphasize the need to proactively communicate on these new media platforms, he cited a famous quote from Benjamin Franklin: "A lie spreads around the world overnight before the truth even gets out of bed."

In a few weeks, if nothing changes, Canadians are going to be dragged onto a global tar-and-feathering at the United Nations' Climate Conference in Copenhagen this December.

"You have to go to where the conversation is and this means posting on influential blogs, social sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and creating your own online websites where the debate, pro and con, can be posted plus research," said Edelman.

This is how the American Petroleum Institute, working with Edelman, was able to convince the American public to support offshore drilling. Polling results in the past year have gone from 25% in favour of offshore drilling in 2008 to 75% of polled Americans in favour in 2009.

"You have to inform the conversation; act and tell; engage with influencers of all stripes; create and cocreate content," he said. "You have to tell your story multiple times in multiple places."


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