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Inside Shell’s PR Strategy To Position Itself As A ‘Net-Zero Emissions’ Leader

A leaked marketing strategy document prepared by oil behemoth Shell and revealed by EnergyDesk shows that Shell hopes to build brand loyalty, especially amongst young people, by repositioning itself as a leader in building a carbon neutral economy — even while the company plans to do nothing to actually rein in emissions from its operations or its product.

The document was intended as a briefing for public relations firms applying to handle an “Energy Transitions” marketing campaign centered around a net-zero emissions narrative for Shell.

According to the document, “Ultimately, the content shouldn’t focus on the challenges of today, but the solutions of tomorrow — showing that net-zero is possible but a ‘patchwork of solutions’ are required across different sectors;

  • Buildings & Lifestyle
  • Tranport
  • Power
  • Industry”

There is no specific mention of how fossil fuel industry business models will have to evolve to achieve a carbon neutral future, though the document states “It can be driven by carbon pricing” and repeatedly emphasizes carbon capture and sequestration as a key technology for transforming transport, power and industry.

Naomi Oreskes: A New Form of Climate Denialism is at Work in Canada

No one has a better handle on the effect climate deniers have on the socio-political stage than science historian and author Naomi Oreskes.
 
Her book Merchants of Doubt charts the path of many of the world’s most notorious deniers, skeptics, shills, PR men and experts-for-hire. Plus, as a trained historian and professor of earth and environmental sciences at Harvard, Oreskes has the ability to take a 10,000-foot view when it comes to climate politics and the turning tide of public opinion.
 
Oreskes recently visited Vancouver to discuss climate change and climate denial in Canada at a talk organized by the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies.  
 
For Oreskes, understanding how climate denial is active in places like Canada involves acknowledging the expansiveness of climate change as an issue, one that cuts across boundaries between government, society and market power.
 
We asked Oreskes what she makes of Canada’s current political situation — a situation in which our  prime minister announces impressive climate targets on the world stage but then quietly approves B.C.’s first LNG export terminal on a Friday afternoon.
 
“Of course there is a long road ahead,” Oreskes said. “[Climate change] is a very big issue that reaches into economics, politics and culture.”

Corporate And Political Corruption: The Lessons Not Learned From The Deepwater Horizon Disaster

As we approach the six-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion that killed 11 people and devastated much of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem, recent news stories paint a very clear picture that no one has learned anything from this disaster.
 
On Monday of this week, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that BP will pay $20 billion in civil and federal penalties and fines resulting from its role in the oil spill. This total amount was approved by Judge Carl Barbier who has overseen much of the litigation from the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Judge Barbier ordered that the $20 billion, which includes a $5.5 billion Clean Water Act violation fine, be paid out over 16 years at a rate of $1.3 billion per year.
 
In response to the deal, Attorney General Loretta Lynch made the following statement: “Today’s action holds BP accountable with the largest environmental penalty of all time while launching one of the most extensive environmental restoration efforts ever undertaken.”
 
But here’s the story that the Justice Department didn’t want the public to know: 75% of this fine is tax deductible for BP, meaning that U.S. taxpayers will foot most of the bill for the largest oil spill in history.

"Miracle of American Oil": Continental Resources Courted Corporate Media to Sell Oil Exports

A document published by the Public Relations Society of America, discovered by DeSmog, reveals that from the onset of its public relations campaign, the oil industry courted mainstream media reporters to help it sell the idea of lifting the ban on crude oil exports to the American public and policymakers.

Calling its campaign the “Miracle of American Oil,” the successful PR effort to push for Congress and the White House to lift the oil exports ban was spearheaded by Continental Resources, a company known as the “King of the Bakken” shale oil basin and founded by Harold Hamm. Hamm served as energy advisor to 2012 Republican Party presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

A New Kind of Frackademia? New Environmental Inspectors Offered Free Industry-Funded Classes on Fracking

At an industry conference in Philadelphia last month, oil and gas executives gathered to hear about a little-known public relations effort with a very precise target: newly hired state and federal environmental inspectors.

At a seminar titled “Staying Ahead of Federal and State Regulations: A Partnership with Academia and Government,” officials from Pennsylvania State University and the University of Texas described how gifts from companies like ExxonMobil allowed their universities, along with the Colorado School of Mines, to offer state regulators free classes on oil industry best practices, travel and accommodations included.

American Petroleum Institute Touts Oil Exports to Fend Off Iran, Russia Despite API Members Tied to Both Countries

The American Petroleum Institute (API) has launched a new advertising campaign in its ongoing push to oust the U.S. oil exports ban in place since 1975.

One of the most recent ads, titled “Crude Oil Exports and National Security” on YouTube, starts off with ominous music and asks, “Who loves the ban on U.S. crude oil exports?” The answer, says API, is “Iran and Russia, not exactly our best friends.”

Not mentioned: both countries currently maintain business ties with API's dues-paying members.

Industry-Stacked Energy Department Committee: Shale Running Dry, Let's Exploit the Arctic

A report assembled by an industry-centric US Department of Energy committee recommends the nation start exploiting the Arctic due to oil and gas shale basins running dry. 

In the just-submitted report, first obtained by the Associated Press, the DOE's National Petroleum Council — many members of which are oil and gas industry executives — concludes that oil and gas obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) will not last beyond the next decade or so, thus the time is ripe to raid the fragile Arctic to feed our fossil fuel addiction. 

The NPC just launched a website and executive summary of the report: Arctic Potential: Realizing the Promise of U.S. Oil and Gas Resources.

Confirming the thesis presented by the Post Carbon Institute in its two reports, “Drill Baby, Drill” and “Drilling Deeper,” the National Petroleum Council believes the shale boom does not have much more than a decade remaining.

The NPC report appears to largely gloss over the role of further fossil fuel dependence on climate change, or the potentially catastrophic consequences of an oil spill in the Arctic.

The first mention of climate change appears to refer to “concern about the future of the culture of the Arctic peoples and the environment in the face of changing climate and increased human activity,” but doesn't mention the role of fossil fuels in driving those changes. Instead, the report immediately pivots to focus on “increasing interest in the Arctic for tourist potential, and reductions in summer ice provide an increasing opportunity for marine traffic.”

ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, a National Petroleum Council member, chimed in on the study in an interview with the Associated Press.  

“There will come a time when all the resources that are supplying the world's economies today are going to go in decline,” remarked Tillerson. “This is will [sic] be what's needed next. If we start today it'll take 20, 30, 40 years for those to come on.”

The National Petroleum Council also deployed the energy poverty argument, utilized most recently by coal giant Peabody Energy in its “Advanced Energy For Life” public relations campaign, to make its case for Arctic drilling as a replacement for fracking.

“But global demand for oil, which affects prices of gasoline, diesel and other fuels everywhere, is expected to rise steadily in the coming decades — even as alternative energy use blossoms — because hundreds of millions of people are rising from poverty in developing regions and buying more cars, shipping more goods, and flying in airplanes more often,” reads the report. “In order to meet that demand and keep prices from soaring, new sources of oil must be developed, the council argues.”

Rail Industry Lobbied Against New Oil-by-Rail Safety Regulations The Day After Rail Accident

With the recent run of exploding oil train accidents, it isn’t surprising that the rail industry has publicly expressed concern about hauling highly flammable oils like Bakken light crude and diluted tar sands. But that's all the industry has done: express concern. It certainly hasn't done anything to act on its concerns.

For instance, Hunter Harrison, CEO of Canadian Pacific railway and the man who is on record as saying that regulators “overreacted” to the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster, recently said Canadian Pacific might get out of the oil hauling business.

“Our board of directors looked at this very carefully and said, ‘what kind of exposure do we have and what kind of exposure are we [exposing] the public to by hauling some of these commodities?’” Harrison told BNN television. “And in spite of the bottom line—and I was very proud—we’ve sat back and said we might get out of this business.”

Of course, Hunter Harrison is a savvy businessman who has a record of relentless pursuit of profit. Harrison knows full well that the common carrier laws that apply to rail shipments make it so that he would have to shut down Canadian Pacific if he wanted to get out of the oil hauling business. Which isn’t likely.

What is more likely is that, just like rail company BNSF’s early 2014 public relations stunt in which the company said it was buying 5,000 safer rail cars to haul oil but then never did, Harrison is also just feeding the media a good story.

Because two days after Harrison was telling the media he wanted out of the oil hauling business, and one day after the exploding oil train accident in Galena, Illinois, Glen Wilson, Canadian Pacific’s Vice President of Safety, Environmental and Regulatory Affairs, was in Washington, D.C. lobbying against new oil train safety regulations.

Sued by Chesapeake Energy for Stealing Trade Secrets, Aubrey McClendon Hires PR Giant Edelman

Chesapeake Energy has sued its former CEO, Aubrey McClendon, for allegedly stealing its trade secrets in the months between his resignation and the formation of his new company, American Energy Partners. To defend itself outside of the courtroom, American Energy Partners has hired Edelmanthe 'world's largest' and often controversial public relations firm.

Filed on February 17 at the District Court of Oklahoma County, Chesapeake's legal complaint alleges McClendon covertly took map-based data owned by the company in the time between resigning from the company and then officially leaving the company in early 2013. Chesapeake also alleges that he then utilized that same confidential data for business and investment decisions at his new startup in deciding which land to purchase for hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for oil and gas.

AEP used confidential information and trade secrets stolen by McClendon from Chesapeake as a basis for their decision to acquire certain acreage in the Utica Shale Play,” alleges the lawsuit. “Further, in acquiring this acreage…AEP interfered with Chesapeake's business plans and its negotiations for its own acquisition of acreage in the Utica Shale play.”

Chesapeake Energy alleges that, before taking the data with him, McClendon asked a former company vice president of land, whose name is redacted in the complaint, to optimize and update the data.

Chesapeake Energy v. American Energy Partners Complaint
Image Credit: District Court of Oklahoma County

Center for Public Integrity Reveals How PR Firms Manufacture Consent for Oil, Big Business

The Center for Public Integrity has broken new ground by publishing a months-long investigation into the public relations and influence-peddling spending conducted by Big Business trade associations between 2008-2012.

That investigation highlights spending for trade associations ranging from the American Petroleum Institute, National Mining AssociationEdison Electric Institute, America's Natural Gas Association and many others not in the oil, gas and coal industry. The energy industrial complex, though, by far spent the most on public relations according to the Center.

Image Credit: Center for Public Integrity

API by far spent the most money on public relations according to the Center's analysis, which explained its research methodology as a side-bar to the story.

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