My Canada includes rights of Indigenous Peoples. Love it or leave it! Peace.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Oil sands admits PR failure
Canada's oilsands industry admits it has “dropped the ball” in engaging with the public about the environmental effects of its developments, the head of the sector's largest lobby group said Thursday in revealing the results of a major public outreach campaign.
“I think that the ground has been taken away from us in many respects by campaigns by environmental groups and others,” Dave Collyer, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, told a news conference.
Collyer was joined by Imperial Oil Ltd. (TSX:IMO) chief executive Bruce March and Oil Sands Developers Group president Don Thompson in announcing the findings of a CAPP poll.
The industry has not been upfront enough, said Thompson, whose group communicates between companies, the government and local stakeholders about oilsands development.
“We've allowed others to take the agenda from us,” he said.
While the industry may have failed on the communications front, Collyer said he stands by the industry's environmental performance.
“We've dropped the ball on getting our message out and communicating. We have not dropped the ball on environmental performance as an industry,” he said.
The poll, which surveyed 425 people in both Edmonton and Toronto in June, sought to find out more about Canadians' perceptions of the oilsands industry, which has been encountering mounting criticism from environmentalists.
The poll was done in conjunction with an online forum called Canada's Oil Sands: A Different Conversation, which garnered thousands of responses from the public.
About 46 per cent of respondents believed oilsands companies have not done a good job in balancing the environment and the economy, while 22 per cent think the industry has achieved that balance.
The industry's impact on fresh water supply was cited as the biggest area of concern, followed by the impact on wildlife and habitat.
The industry garnered worldwide infamy early last year, when it was revealed that 500 ducks had died in a toxic tailings pond at Syncrude Canada Ltd.'s site near Fort McMurray, Alta.
Many communities in the area are also concerned that companies are drawing too much fresh water from the Athabasca river, which is needed to separate the sticky bitumen from sand and clay.
And there are worries toxic chemicals from the oilsands plants are finding their way into the food chain, jeopardizing the health of aboriginal communities downstream of the developments.
Oilsands developments require a great deal of energy and emit large amounts of carbon dioxide, the gas attributed to climate change. The industry says it has made progress in reducing its water use and has been working on improving technology used in its tailings ponds.
Many in the sector have backed carbon capture and sequestration technology as a means to prevent carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere by storing it underground. However, there has been debate over whether taxpayers or industry should foot the bill.
Half of the respondents said they do not believe what oil and gas executives say in the media, compared with 13 per cent who do believe what they say.
But the survey also said 63 per cent of respondents believe Canada benefits from oilsands development and 64 per cent said the oilsands are important to providing a secure supply of Canada's future oil needs.
The poll, which was done by “academic researchers,” has a margin of error of 4.8 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
Lindsay Telfer of the Sierra Club said the polling by CAPP reinforces the messages her environmental group has been trying to get out, but that she would like to see the industry and government move beyond “rhetoric.”
“I think there are some very significant and very real concerns that Canadians have on how the oilsands have been proceeding and it's not just a perception issue,” she said.
Greenpeace campaigner Mike Hudema said the world is turning away from Alberta's “dirty oil,” with the European Union and U.S. states recently imposing low-carbon fuel standards.
“The markets have spoken, it's the industry that's not listening,” Hudema said.
Collyer said the industry is also trying to spread its message south of the border, with President-Elect Barack Obama expected to take a tougher stance on greenhouse gas emissions than his predecessor, George W. Bush.
“We'll be very active in Washington and in various states that influence policy in the U.S. over the next several months,” he said.
Imperial's March added that oilsands companies produce energy that is desperately needed in the global economy, but that many people simply do not understand that dynamic.
“It looks easy when you see the price of gasoline 40 feet in the air,” he said.
“People count on this so much in their lives, but they simply don't understand how it gets done and they don't understand the complexity.”
A private prosecution was launched Wednesday against Syncrude, in which Imperial holds a 25 per cent stake, over the duck deaths. The company has also fought
environmentalists in court over its $8-billion Kearl oilsands development.
March said he has no fear that future court battles will hinder Imperial's oilsands activities.
“Frankly, that's a part of the business and the world we live in and I'd expect that to continue,” he said.
(The Canadian Press)
My Canada includes rights of Indigenous Peoples. LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT! Peace.
Two Row Wampum Treaty
"It is said that, each nation shall stay in their own vessels, and travel the river side by side. Further, it is said, that neither nation will try to steer the vessel of the other." This is a treaty among Indigenous Nations, and with Canada. This is the true nature of our relationships with Indigenous Nations of 'Kanata'.