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Stopping a “Carbon Bomb” Tar Sands Pipeline

Client: NextGen Climate Action

Challenge: The Keystone XL pipeline (KXL) was heading to a likely approval, after corporate backer TransCanada hired an army of former White House staffers to lobby the State Department for KXL’s approval. Their claim: Environmentalists were being silly, making a big deal out of “just another pipeline.” Opposition to KXL was stuck in the high 20s among Americans in the wake of the phony “Climategate” and Solyndra “scandals” manufactured by the polluter lobby.

Solution: Climate philanthropist Tom Steyer hired us to change the KXL equation. We did an aggressive campaign to reposition KXL as a pet project of the Koch Brothers, the most virulent opponents of President Obama at the time. We deployed:

  • In-depth market analyses.
  • Extensive ad campaign showing KXL’s corporate parent was a “foreign oil company.”
  • An entire summit at Georgetown University that exposed the Kochs’ substantial tar sands holdings and KXL’s ability to unlock the “carbon bomb” of the tar sands fields - the largest oil reserves in the world at 6 trillion barrels.
  • The first-ever security assessment of oil pipelines, conducted by a decorated former member of SEAL Team 6.
  • Pressure to get the State Department Inspector General to investigate how tar sands lobbyists had pushed the department to cut corners on the critical, Environmental Impact Statement.

Result: President Obama announced he was rejecting KXL’s permit, something that TransCanada struggled for years after to reverse.