For the oil sands, PR is not the problem


in Canada, Economics, Politics, Rants, The environment


In a bizarre story, The Globe and Mail is reporting on how representatives of the oil sands industry are claiming to have “‘dropped the ball’ in engaging with the public about the environmental effects of its energy developments.” This is a bit like saying that the industry has thus far been unsuccessful in deceiving people about the environmental impacts of oil sands operations, which definitely deserve the filthy image they have earned.

The problem with the oil sands certainly isn’t their public relations: it is their greenhouse gas emissions, their destruction of the boreal forest, their contamination of water, and so forth. Altering those aspects of the industry cannot be achieved through media messaging. It is dispiriting – though unsurprising – that the companies involved are keener on giving people the sense that their operations are clean (or at least improving), rather than actually raising standards. While oil sands production cannot be made into an environmentally benign activity, having all facilities adopt the best standards in other existing facilities could make a significant contribution towards reducing the level of harm they produce.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Litty January 9, 2009 at 10:58 am

That’s quite the macabre image. One the oil sands PR people would do well to avoid.

Alena January 9, 2009 at 4:04 pm

Is that the cemetery in N. Bennington close to Mirka’s house?

Milan January 9, 2009 at 4:05 pm

Yes, it is.

. January 24, 2011 at 6:50 pm

During a discussion of the Ambassador’s travels, Prentice asked for his views on the oil sands. Prentice shared that he was concerned about the media focus on the sands and the possible impact on Canada‘s international reputation. He recalled that he was first concerned about oil sands coverage during a trip to Norway where the public was debating whether or not Norway should be investing public funds (Statoil) in ‘dirty oil’. As Prentice relayed it, the public sentiment in Norway shocked him and has heightened his awareness of the negative consequences to Canada‘s historically ‘green’ standing on the world stage. Calling himself “conservationist-minded”, Prentice said he would step in and regulate the sands if Canada’s image in the world gets further tarnished by negative coverage. …Prentice did say that he felt that Government of Canada’s reaction to the dirty oil label was “too slow” and failed to grasp the magnitude of the situation.

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