Enbridge launches million dollar ad campaign to gain public support
As Greenpeace activists hung an anti-pipeline banner from the Lions Gate Bridge, Northern Gateway proponent Enbridge launched a multimillion-dollar ad campaign to counter B.C. opposition.
Speaking at a press conference near Stanley Park, Enbridge spokesperson Paul Stanway said the campaign is designed to garner public support for the pipeline project in areas of B.C. where support is low.
Stanway said Enbridge recognizes the province-wide debate surrounding the project, and the campaign is an effort to address those concerns, but also reach the greater B.C. public.
"We always felt we had good answers to people's concerns," he said.
And just as the conference got underway, Greenpeace Canada activists rappelled off the Lions Gate Bridge, draping a gigantic anti-pipeline banner in its latest expression of protest against pipeline expansion.
Concerns among groups fighting the pipeline are over increased tanker traffic in dangerous coastal waters, and the potential for a catastrophic spill.
Because the pipeline will carry bitumen, the heaviest and thickest form of petroleum, these groups worry that a spill will have unforeseen impacts on the environment.
But according to the Northern Gateway Pipeline website, the new pipeline will create jobs, lead to greater environmental protection and economic stimulus, and engage Aboriginal communities.
A controversial topic in B.C., the pipeline has pitted First Nations, environmental groups and progressive politicians against oil companies and the Harper government.
The Conservative government has championed the project as a way to fuel Canada’s economic prosperity, and said it would open up new markets for the country’s oil resources, particularly in Asia.
But Greenpeace will have none of it.
The group's banner, which shouted, “No tar sands pipelines,” above an image of an Orca whale diving in an oil-saturated ocean, was up for a couple of hours Tuesday morning before the operators (who had difficulty securing it completely) took it down.
The move is part of Greenpeace's continuing protest against the Harper government's recent budget bill, which plans to alter Canada's environmental laws, and fast-track the approval process for tar sands pipelines.
"In the past decade, there were 804 oil spills along the existing Enbridge pipelines," said Melina Laboucan-Massimo, a climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace Canada.
"I think the public has the information they need. Enbridge is asking B.C. to absorb all the risks ... because once the oil leaves their pipeline, they're absolved of all the risks," said Laboucan-Massimo, reacting to the company's new campaign.
Laboucan-Massimo pointed to the 2010 Enbridge pipeline oil spill in southwest Michigan's Kalamazoo County where more than 800,000 gallons spilled into a creek and made its way downstream in the Kalamazoo River.
Clean-up and health impacts surrounding the spill were unlike anything the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had ever dealt with and raised serious concerns about B.C.'s preparedness to respond to bitumen spills.
Enbridge's campaign launched on Wednesday with ads in newspapers and television, and will eventually feature ads online and on the radio. The campaign will run until the end of year.