During a recent Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce luncheon the vice president of TransCanada addressed the crowd of business people and talked about the Energy East pipeline project. TransCanada Vice President Gary Houston said the pipeline will benefit the economy of Canada and is also one of the safest oil transportation methods possible. According to Houston “We’ve had over 100 open houses across the country since 2013. We’re dealing with nearly 500 municipalities. We’re dealing with 155 aboriginal groups, 5,500 landowners. It’s just a huge undertaking. When you count all the consultants, there are more than 1,000 people canvassing the country trying to get the message out.” Public support is crucial for the success of the project, and Houston is up front about this fact.
Approval for the Energy East pipeline has not been given by the National Energy Board, but that did not stop the presentation on the project at the recent Fort MacMurray Chamber of Commerce luncheon. TransCanada has also started a social media campaign that is quite aggressive, hoping to dispel myths and get success stories about the oil industry out into the public eye. Greenpeace Canada went public with documents last November which showed that TransCanada had a plan to use third party groups for discrediting opponents when efforts to do this by TransCanada fail. The documents read in part “This campaign approach has a strong heritage in the more aggressive politics and policy fights in the U.S., and those lessons and best practices will be critical to our success.” During the speech Houston touched on pipeline safety, saying “We’re now shipping nearly 2,000 barrels a day out of Alberta by train and that’s a big number when you live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, seeing the oil cars going through downtown, People are really waking up to the fact that maybe this isn’t the best way to transport oil over a long distance. A pipeline is under the ground, silent and usually routed away from communities.”