Canadian Environmental Group Uses Satire To Highlight Energy East Pipeline Risks

“Few benefits for Canadians.”

by: Obert Madondo  | Jan 20, 2015

Environmental Defence Satire - YouTube ScreenshotA leading Canadian environmental group has taken to satire to highlight the grave risks posed by TransCanada’s proposed Energy East tar sands pipeline project.

Last week, Toronto-based Environmental Defence released a cheeky video starring a British actor with a striking resemblance to famous British naturalist David Attenborough. Dubbed Great Canadian Migrations, the video follows tar sands oil as it travels from its epicentre in Alberta, through several Canadian provinces, to an oil tanker in the Atlantic Ocean.

The actor’s absurdly optimistic commentary is accompanied by footage of recent well-known oil spills in Canada and the United States. The video also highlights Energy East’s proven contribution to climate change.


“The tar sands and climate change are no laughing matter, but we hope by using humour to reach a wide audience and raise awareness about the significant risks associated with the Energy East mega-pipeline,” said Keith Brooks, Environmental Defence’s Clean Economy Program Director, in a press release. “Energy East has many risks, especially to communities along the route, with few benefits for Canadians.”

TransCanada, the company also behind the beleagued Keystone XL pipeline, filed for Energy East’s approval with the National Energy Board in late 2014. If built, the proposed 4,400km pipeline would ship 1.1 million barrels of tar sands oil from Alberta to Canada’s east coast.

A report Environmental Defence released jointly with the Council of Canadians, Ecology Action Centre and Equiterre last year revealed that the Energy East pipeline would yield meagre benefits for Canada, with the bulk of the oil heading for export markets in Asia and Europe.

The risks

The Council of Canadians has argued that the pipeline would cause a 40 per cent increase in tar sands production, more climate pollution and threaten “over 1000 waterways along the route with a devastating diluted bitumen spill.” The Ottawa-based organization has also found that Energy East would “lead to massive tanker exports from the Atlantic coast to Europe, India, China and the U.S” and gas shortages in Ontario and Quebec.

A study released in early 2014 by the Pembina Institute, a Canadian think-tank focused on energy issues, revealed that Energy East “could generate up to 32 million tonnes of additional greenhouse gas emissions each year — an even greater impact than the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.”

I wonder how TransCanada will react to Environmental Defence’s timely humour. Last year, we learned that the energy giant had hired Edelman, one of the world’s largest PR firms, to help sell the Energy East project to the public and attack the pipeline’s opponents.

According to internal strategic documents obtained by Greenpeace, Edelman advised TransCanada to engaged in a “perpetual campaign” involving propaganda, demonization, character assassination, smear campaign, economic warfare, proxy groups and other dirty tactics, to attack climate justice activists opposed to the Energy East pipeline.

Environmentalist David Suzuki is one of those targeted. Suzuki responded: “I won’t be intimidated. I have no intention of backing down.”

Photo: YouTube screen capture

Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based progressive blogger, and the founder and editor of The Canadian Progressive. Follow me on Twitter: @Obiemad

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Obert Madondo

Publisher and editor
Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based independent journalist and progressive political blogger. He's the publisher and editor of The Canadian Progressive.