Leaked documents show that TransCanada has been using dirty tricks to attack environmental advocates, says Greenpeace Canada. According to the non-governmental environmental organization, the documents show that TransCanada has been involved in a PR and “grassroots advocacy” strategy to pressure politicians and critics of its Energy East pipeline proposal.
The tactics are allegedly very similar to those used by the US oil industry to attack environmental advocates.
Greenpeace Canada’s Climate and Energy Campaign coordinator, Keith Stewart, said:
“Clearly TransCanada is worried about the growing opposition to their Energy East tar sands pipeline. These documents show that TransCanada is planning a secret dirty tricks campaign, using third parties to attack and smear its critics.”
Edelman, the world’s largest PR firm, prepared the strategy for TransCanada, Greenpeace says. Edelman has been involved in multimillion-dollar campaigns for several oil companies, including one for the American Petroleum Institute and the American legislative Exchange Council to extinguish climate legislation in the US.
According to Greenpeace, the documents, which were written between May and August this year, set out a strategy to “Add layers of difficulty for our opponents, distracting them from their mission and causing them to redirect their resources.”
Mr. Stewart says TransCanada is willing to use third parties to smear critics.
This would be done by taking on third parties to say and do things when TransCanada is unable to.
Nine TransCanada and 40 Edelman employees have been identified as people who will be working on the campaign, which is run from Eldelman’s office in D.C. The documents describe an advertising and pro-Energy East advocacy website that has already been launched.
Mr. Stewart said:
“They are importing what they acknowledge is an ‘aggressive’ U.S. model of politics and have brought in American public relations experts with a history of using fake grassroots groups to attack industry critics to execute this plan.”
“When oil companies create front groups to smear their opponents, they degrade democratic debate. Greenpeace may be fierce in the defense of our environment, but we put our names to our statements and publish the research to back them up. We expect oil companies to do the same.”
The following is written in the documents: “This campaign approach has a strong heritage in the more aggressive politics and policy fights in the U.S., and those lessons and best practices will be critical to our success.”
The Edelman people identified in the documents include key personnel with experience in running pro-industry bogus grassroots (astroturf) campaigns to attack critics and undermine action on climate change in the United States. According to Greenpeace, they are closely linked to the Republican and Tea Party.
Greenpeace has made available a summary of the documents plus background information.