Alberta Unveils $25 Million Slogan to Counter Tar Sands Criticism

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More evidence that Alberta’s polluting tar sands are fast becoming a liability: The government has unveiled a new provincial brand to buck its growing international reputation as an environmental wasteland.

The new slogan reads: "Freedom to create, spirit to achieve." (You might continue that with "the world’s dirtiest oil operation.")

The web site and ad campaigns went live today. The cost to taxpayers: $25 million. "Money very well-spent," said Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach, who freely admitted:

"It’s worth more than $25 million, protecting a $40 billion revenue stream."

He went on to explain:

"We’re in a global competitive market. We export at least 60 percent of [the oil and gas we] produce and 90 percent of that goes to the U.S., a trading partner that has had some serious economic consequences."

New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP) Leader Brian Mason told the Edmonton Sun that the new identity was a waste of money and is meant as propaganda to defend Alberta’s tar sands against environmental critics.

The rebranding was partly laid out in a government document released this month called "Responsible Actions: A Plan for Alberta’s Oilsands." 

That 20-year "strategic" plan, which reads like PR spin, calls on Alberta to balance oil sands development with environmental protection — or at least to create the impression of doing that.

The roll out of the brand will feature advertising in Canada and in nations all over the world. Premier Stelmach’s spokesman Paul Stanway explained the need to go global:

"We cannot let the impression take hold that Alberta is a dirty, grim place that produces dirty energy."

Except for that pesky little fact that Alberta does produce dirty energy, the dirtiest on Earth.

The tar sands emit more carbon dioxide than the entire nation of New Zealand. They’re the single largest point source for CO2 in Canada, and soon the planet.

No amount of sloganeering can change that, or any of the following dirty truths. They come
from a recent SolveClimate series by Andrew Nikiforuk, author of Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent:

  • Between 100 to 650 pounds of carbon dioxide are produced per every barrel of tar sands oil, compared with 20 pounds per barrel for North Sea oil.
  • There are now more than a dozen toxic ponds of mining waste from tar sands development, occupying over 50 square miles forest along the Athabasca River.
  • The tar sands industry exports an unsustainable three million barrels of water from the Athabasca River daily.
  • Every day, the steam plants in the tar sands use enough energy to warm 6 million Canadian homes.


On the "Alberta Brand" site it reads:

There is no better time than right now to get the word out about our province and its people.

It’s more important than ever before for Alberta’s story to be told.

Could not agree more. So please, check out the articles below. They’re are as good a place as any to start learning the true story of Alberta.


The Tar Sands’ Deadly Ponds

CCS Can’t Make the Tar Sands Clean

Canada’s Mountaintop Mining: The Tar Sands

In the Tar Patch, Bitumen Comes Before Fish

Report Warns Tar Sands a Risky Bet for Investors

Alberta’s Oil Sands Sucking Up Volumes of Water

The Canadian Oil Boom: Scraping Bottom (National Geographic, March 2009)

Unconventional Crude (Elizabeth Kolbert, New Yorker Magazine, November 2007)