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Canada planning $24-million oil sands advertising counter campaign

About 20% of bitumen is extracted through mining

Canada’s federal government plans to invest about $24 million in a two-year international ad campaign to counter “intense and sustained public relations” attacks against Alberta’s oil sands, Postmedia News reports Friday.

In a request for proposals issued by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), authorities make clear that they blame domestic and international campaigns against oil sands for proposed regulations that “unfairly target the oil sands,” and which are based on “preconceived notions about the oil sands that are not supported by science.”

Canada planning $24-million oil sands advertising counter campaign

Canada Association of Petroleum Producers’ ad.

In a related blog post this morning, New York-based group Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) revealed that a “prominent delegation” of Canadians has traveled to Washington DC to urge U.S. law and policy makers note and stop the systematic attack on the country’s corresponding policies.

The writers go on to wonder how does the Canadian government plan to do that when, they say, the country has shown “weakened, ineffective, and missing environmental laws.”

Canada has quietly amended, delayed, and failed to enact environmental laws critical to mitigating the well-known risks of tar sands development. Along the way, Canada has withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol, claimed its spot as the eighth largest GHG emitter in the world, lobbied governments around the world to weaken their climate and environmental policies, and actively restrained the production and publication of scientific studies deemed damaging to Canada’s pro-tar sands interests.

NRCan’s PR campaign, the costliest the body has undertaken in recent years(*), comes at a time when the federal Conservatives are having a tough time selling the Keystone XL pipeline, both locally and in the U.S.

Image: Shell’s Athabasca oil sands project/Flickr

(*) NRCan spent only $5.25 million total in advertising for 2011-2012.