This post was originally published at RepublicReport.org.
One of the many consulting firms retained to build support for the Keystone XL, a controversial pipeline to bring oil sands in Canada to Gulf Coast refineries, failed to disclose its activities as federal law appears to have required. Through a records request, Republic Report has found that the Alberta government hired a public relations company called Feverpress to promote the pipeline last year.
Feverpress, run by Hilary Lefebvre and David Press, was retained for $65,000. In a memo to David Manning, Alberta’s lobbyist in Washington, DC, Feverpress said they had reached out to “producers and reporters to gauge the level of interest in the Keystone issue and to introduce the premier as a spokesperson to speak on behalf of Canadian efforts to secure approval of the pipeline.” The invoice shows a payment titled “Public Relations Services Relating to Keystone Pipeline.”
The firm pledged to reach out to “bigger targets” in the media, including Charlie Rose and Piers Morgan. “We have devised a strategy to focus interest on Alberta as a contributor to the US economy and environmental sustainability, to take advantage of ongoing media interest in energy security, seasonal interest in gasoline prices, and responding to increased efforts by the environmental community to portray Keystone’s impact in a very negative way,” wrote the firm to their clients in Canada.
The final decision on the Keystone XL will be made by President Barack Obama. To influence the process, a number of interest groups that stand to gain from approval of the pipeline have conducted a multi-year promotional campaign.
Critics say approval will drastically boost carbon emissions because the pipeline will vastly accelerate high-carbon tar sands production. NASA scientist James Hansen has declared that the pipeline is a “fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet.”
The Alberta government has gone to great lengths to build public support for the Keystone XL. Last year, Alberta retained consulting firms Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications and Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti to help with Keystone XL outreach among reporters and public officials. As DeSmogBlog’s Brendan DeMelle noted, both firms are led by former staffers to political leaders central to the Keystone XL approval process, including Secretary of State John Kerry.