Oil industry rebuts ‘trash-talking’ celebrity critics – by Shawn McCarthy and Richard Blackwell (Globe and Mail – January 16, 2014)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

OTTAWA and TORONTO — Two of Calgary’s most prominent oil executives delivered a scathing rebuttal to celebrity critics such as rock star Neil Young, as the industry attempts to win support for pipeline projects that are essential to its ambitious growth plans for the oil sands.

Cenovus Energy Inc. chief executive Brian Ferguson and TransCanada Corp. chair Russ Girling brought an aggressive message to a joint presentation at Toronto’s Canadian Club, in which they defended the country’s current approach to environmental protection and resource development.

Their appearance came just three days after Mr. Young launched a cross-country “Honour the Treaties” concert tour with a press conference that slammed the oil-sands development as an environmental catastrophe, ruinous to the health of local populations and an abrogation of treaty commitments.

Without specifically mentioning the singer, Mr. Ferguson said celebrities have been “trash-talking” Canada’s oil industry.

“In Hollywood, the land of make-believe, everything is black and white, good and evil,” he said. “Hollywood stereotypes are unhelpful and, in many instances, just simply dead wrong.”

More than just a slagging match, the battle between the oil industry and environmentalists could determine the pace of growth in the oil sands.

The oil sands sector is the largest construction site in the country but also the fastest-growing source of greenhouse-gas emissions.

Cenovus’s growth plan shows what is at stake as opponents target proposed pipelines to the U.S. Gulf Coast, to the West Coast in British Columbia and to the East Coast in New Brunswick. The company, with its partners, expects to produce 400,000 barrels per day of crude this year, and to increase that to 1 million barrels per day by 2023.

“If there were no more pipeline expansions, I would have to slow down,” the Cenovus executive told The Globe and Mail’s editorial board.

He said he remains optimistic that TransCanada and other pipeline companies can win public support for projects by demonstrating their safety and debunking what they characterize as misinformation from their critics.

For the rest of this article, click here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/oil-industry-rebuts-trash-talking-celebrity-critics/article16357980/#dashboard/follows/