TransCanada Dirty Tricks Playbook Revealed

November 18, 2014

November 18, 2014 - Today, Greenpeace released leaked documents detailing TransCanada’s secret public relations and “grassroots advocacy” strategy for its Energy East tar sands pipeline proposal. Greenpeace says the documents show the embattled pipeline company is planning to adopt the tactics employed by the U.S. oil industry to attack environmental advocates in Canada. The strategy was prepared for TransCanada by Edelman, the largest public relations firm in the world.

“TransCanada is a multibillion-dollar corporation with the backing of the Canadian government, yet with all that in its favor, they still need Daniel Edelman’s campaign of distraction, disruption, and dirty tricks to go forward with this pipeline.” Greenpeace USA Research Director Mark Floegel said.  “Clearly, TransCanada and Edelman both know there’s no good economic or social reason to build new infrastructure for dirty fossil fuels.”


Edelman has worked extensively for the oil industry, including running a multi-million dollar campaign for the American Petroleum Institute and the Koch brothers-affiliated American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to defeat climate legislation in the United States.


The documents, written between May and August 2014, lay out a strategy to “Add layers of difficulty for our opponents, distracting them from their mission and causing them to redirect their resources” by recruiting third parties to do and say things “when TransCanada can’t.”  The documents identify over 40 Edelman staff people and 9 TransCanada staff people who will work on the campaign, which is led from Edelman’s Washington D.C. office. The advertising and pro-Energy East advocacy website described in the documents have already been launched.


“When oil companies create front groups to smear their opponents, they degrade democratic debate.,” Keith Stewart, Greenpeace Canada’s climate and energy campaign coordinator said. “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 documents state, “This campaign approach has a strong heritage in the more aggressive politics and policy fights in the US, and those lessons and best practices will be critical to our success,” and, later, “Companies like ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, and Halliburton (and many more) have all made key investments in building permanent advocacy assets and programs to support their lobbying, outreach, and policy efforts. In launching a program like this, TransCanada will be in good company with a strong roadmap to follow.”


Edelman staff people identified in these documents include key individuals with experience running pro-industry “astroturf” (fake grassroots) and climate denial campaigns in the U.S.  


For a copy of the documents, or a summary of the documents and background information, please contact Travis Nichols [email protected] 206.802.8498

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