How will Enbridge stem the flow of bad PR? – by Don Martin (CTV News – July 30, 2012)

As pipeline leaks go, it was just a gooey puddle and barely worth a news brief. But the spillover effect of losing six minutes worth of piped oil from its Chicago line has unleashed a gusher of bad publicity for Enbridge at the worst possible time.
The 158,000 litres of light crude turned a Wisconsin farmer’s field into a black mess, which was easily cleaned up leaving behind no significant environmental damage.  Yet media attention on Enbridge has amplified into a frenzy courtesy of its Northern Gateway proposal, a $6-billion pipeline to the west coast now turning the Great Divide into a political as well as geographical watershed between Alberta and B.C.
Premier Christy Clark may have thrown a Hail Mary pass when she demanded a piece of royalty action from Alberta as B.C.’s toll for the pipeline’s unopposed passage, but it’s not without local voter appeal and seems likely to revive a premier whose re-election prospects appeared palliative.
Meanwhile, federal government heavyweights are increasingly weary of carrying the Northern Gateway crusade solo, complaining to me privately that the media-shy company has done a lousy job of spinning its story while leaving difficult public relations to cabinet ministers.
They’re right. Enbridge may have fine lobbyists, but they don’t know how to extol the long-term benefits to Canada of a competitive market for oil exports. Specifically, they haven’t highlighted how U.S. refineries rip off Canada by heavily discounting bitumen product which could attract world prices on the west coast. 
Without a long-term positive image to offset the operational risk of being a pipeline company with an iffy track record — the NTSB likened Enbridge to “keystone cops” for its handling of the Michigan spill of 2010, for example — minor incidents will simply enhance public opposition and inflame political hostilities. 
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