Governments working with oil execs to curb oilsands criticism, documents show

Published by Postmedia News on Tuesday Mar 15 2011

OTTAWA – Senior federal and Alberta government officials are working hand-in-hand with a task force of oil and gas CEOs to “turn up the volume” on communications tactics to fight criticism about the industry’s environmental record, newly released federal documents have revealed.

The briefing notes from Natural Resources Canada, obtained by Postmedia News, highlight the role of the committee that sought input from a former senior adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper for a strategy designed at “upping their game” against criticism from other countries, as well as from Canadians in Ontario and Quebec.

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Conservatives deny diplomatic push to shield oilsands from U.S. environmental rules

Published by Postmedia News on Mon Nov 29 2010

OTTAWA – The Harper government dismissed accusations Monday that its environmental policies were focused on protecting the Alberta oilsands, in light of newly-released documents showing some oil-friendly Canadian diplomats attempting to undermine foreign environmental policies.

The documents were released as international negotiators from almost 200 countries gather in Cancun, Mexico, for the annual United Nations climate change summit. They also coincide with an acknowledgment from Environment Minister John Baird last weekend that Canada would not follow the lead of the Obama administration in its plans to set new limits on greenhouse gas pollution from new industrial facilities and major expansions to existing ones starting in the year 2011.

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Canada enlists Big Oil to help kill U.S green policies

Published by Postmedia News on Sun Nov 28 2010

OTTAWA – Canadian diplomats in Washington have quietly asked oil industry players such as Exxon Mobil and BP to help “kill” U.S. global warming policies in order to ensure that “the oil keeps a-flowing” from Alberta into the U.S. marketplace, Postmedia News has learned.

In a series of newly-released emails from Canada’s Washington embassy, the Canadian diplomats described recommendations from Environment Canada to clean up the oilsands as “simply nutty,” proposing instead to “kill any interpretation” of U.S. energy legislation that would apply to the industry.

“We hope that we can find a solution to ensure that the oil keeps a-flowing,” wrote Jason Tolland, from the Canadian Embassy in an exchange of emails with government trade lawyers on Feb. 8, 2008.

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University of Calgary and Talisman distance themselves from global warming contrarians

Published by Postmedia News on Friday Sep 16 2011

While one American-based climate change skeptic walked away with a $541 soapstone carving, Talisman Energy and other donors to “research” funds at the University of Calgary received tax receipts as a result of a public relations campaign to cast doubt on global warming science, newly released records have revealed.

The revelations from hundreds of pages of invoices and accounting documents from an internal audit come as the university and Talisman, an Alberta-based energy company, move to distance themselves from the sophisticated international marketing and lobbying effort to discredit scientific evidence linking human activity to climate change.

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University climate research accounts used for PR, travel, wining and dining: records

Published by Postmedia News on Wednesday Sep 14 2011

OTTAWA – A pair of “research” accounts at the University of Calgary, funded mainly by the oil and gas industry, were used for a sophisticated international political campaign that involved high-priced consultants, lobbying, wining, dining, and travel with the goal of casting doubt on climate change science, newly-released accounting records have revealed.

The records showed that the strategy was crafted by professional firms, in collaboration with well-known climate change skeptics in Canada and abroad, allowing donors to earn tax receipts by channeling their money through the university.

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Talisman Energy kick-started University of Calgary climate skeptic fund

Talisman Energy kick-started U of C climate skeptic fund
Published by Postmedia News on Tuesday September 13, 2011

OTTAWA – A major Alberta-based oil and gas company helped to kick-start an elaborate public relations project designed to cast doubt on scientific evidence linking human activity to global warming with a $175,000 donation in 2004 channelled through the University of Calgary, a newly-released letter has revealed.

The donation from Talisman Energy was the largest single contribution to a pair of trust accounts at the university that received $507,975 in donations to produce a video and engage in public relations, advertising and lobbying activities against the Kyoto Protocol and government measures to restrict fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

“Talisman is pleased to be a part of this exciting project and wish you success in the production of the video,” said the letter, dated Nov. 4, 2004, to university account administrator Chantal-Lee Watt, that accompanied a $175, 000 cheque. Continue reading

Water pollution law meant to assist oilsands: Liberal MP

Published by Postmedia News on Thursday July 5, 2012

OTTAWA – New laws offering the government more tools to “authorize” water pollution appear to be designed to remove obstacles for expansion of Canada`s oilpatch, says a Liberal MP from Montreal who spearheaded a parliamentary investigation into the environmental footprint of the oilsands.

“I just found it curious that they’re trying to hide their motive,” said Francis Scarpaleggia, the Liberal water critic. “This is all being done for the oilsands. It’s not being done for the pulp and paper industry. They have their house in order.”

Scarpaleggia made the comments in response to recent Postmedia News reports about a letter signed by Fisheries and Oceans Minister Keith Ashfield that explained the government was amending the Canada`s Fisheries Act, previously considered to be the country’s strongest environmental protection law, in order to make it easier to “authorize” water pollution.

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Oil and gas is “gorilla in room” on feds’ climate change policies: Environment Canada

Published by Postmedia News on Jan. 28, 2012.

OTTAWA – The oil and gas industry’s greenhouse gas emissions are the “gorilla in the room” for Canada’s environmental policies, a senior Environment Canada official has told his superiors in newly-released correspondence.

The observations were made by Mike Beale, an associate assistant deputy minister, in an email sent to Deputy Minister Paul Boothe and other senior officials regarding a conference being organized jointly last year by the Pembina Institute, an Alberta-based environmental group, and a major oil and gas company.

After being called by an official from Royal Dutch Shell regarding the April 2011 conference in Banff, Alta., that was to focus on “less controversial” aspects of the climate-change debate, such as energy efficiency and transportation demand management, Beale felt compelled to state what was missing.

“I had to point out – nicely – that the initiative seems to sidestep the gorilla in the room of emission reductions from O&G (oil and gas), but that otherwise, it seems like a great idea,” wrote Beale in the Jan. 20, 2011 email, released to Postmedia News through access to information legislation.

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