[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]I recently received with my copy of Canadian Geographic a publication by Energy Exchange which claims to be a Pollution Probe publication. It appears to be a thinly veiled attempt by the oil and gas industry to “educate” Canadians about the importance of oil, petroleum and natural gas. Also, it is funded exclusively by oil and gas interests.
On Pollution Probe’s website you state, “We are a donor-based organization. We maintain a practical, independent perspective by drawing upon the financial support of a broad spectrum of individuals.”
Could you please explain to me how you are maintaining your independent perspective with this publication entitled Energy Exchange: Powering Conversation Creating Opportunities? Also, could you please explain how the partnership with Energy Exchange, which is advertising for an Executive Director, will be continue to be independent from the interests of big oil?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][mk_image src=”http://www.energy-exchange.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Cover.png” image_width=”800″ image_height=”200″ crop=”false” lightbox=”false” frame_style=”simple” target=”_self” caption_location=”inside-image” align=”left” margin_bottom=”10″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]I ask simply because I am very concerned that the oil and gas industry is embarking on a highly funded, high profile campaign to “restore public confidence in their industry”. The following is an quote from the Calgary Herald, June 5th, 2013.
“Like never before, what we do in our industry — and the worst of what we do in our industry — has entered into living rooms and mainstream conversations,” said Russ Girling, president and CEO of TransCanada. “If we don’t regain public confidence, we won’t be able to retain our social license to continue to operate.”
The public is correct to lack confidence in this industry which is the largest contributor to climate change and the biggest threat to our long term security in this country. They do not have a social license for the work they do.
Now, the oil and gas industry has a direct conduit to my coffee table by partnering with one of my favourite magazines as well as with an environmental organization which I have held in high regard for many years.
Years ago when I was a teenager and interested in embarking on a career in environmentalism, I visited the Pollution Probe House in Toronto. It was the first place I encountered an organization doing the kind of work I wanted to do. I was inspired and impressed. I have since gone on to take my Bachelor of Environment and Resources studies (which, by the way did not focus on oil and gas resources) and have pursued a 20 + year career in the environment.
I was greatly saddened when I saw Pollution Probe’s name, that to me represents integrity and forward thinking on environmental issues, tied to this obviously biased publication.
I look forward to hearing your perspective on this.
Thanks very much,
Elizabeth (EJ) Hurst
Gabriola Island, B.C.
BOB OLIVER, POLLUTION PROBE’S CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, RESPONDS:
Dear Ms. Hurst,
Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns with me. I understand and appreciate the points you make regarding the influence of industry supporters. Certainly, “following the money” is a truism in investigative pursuits. And, to be honest, this is an ongoing challenge for an organization like Pollution Probe, which since its inception has strived to work in collaboration with industry and government, yet has always preserved for itself an independent voice on environmental policy.
First, please allow me to clarify that Energy Exchange is a new and distinct initiative of Pollution Probe. Its aim is to enhance the capacity of Canadians to engage more fully and meaningfully in discussions about the energy choices that confront our nation. The way we address this challenge is by building understanding of the role that energy plays in our lives, by exploring the forces that drive change within our energy systems, as well as the impacts, and by supporting dialogue on energy – an exchange of ideas and perspectives in which everyone has a voice. Accordingly, a variety of products, services and events are planned, of which the magazine is just one.
Second, to address your specific concern about influence over Pollution Probe activities, we need to disentangle two separate issues: (1) independence of voice; (2) funding model.[/vc_column_text][mk_blockquote style=”line-style” font_family=”none” text_size=”22″ align=”left”]We aim to produce articles that are grounded in fact.[/mk_blockquote][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]
Regarding independence, Pollution Probe identifies environmental problems through research, it builds understanding through education and it presses for practical solutions through advocacy. This approach is governed by our values, which commit Pollution Probe to work in collaboration with all sectors of society and to convene relevant subject matter experts to review and participate in the development of new content. Among our expert advisory groups, we strive to achieve balance, both in terms of geography and sector of interest. Though we seek to build consensus, this is not always possible in practical terms, which is why Pollution Probe holds itself solely responsible for its products and its positions on matters of policy.
Regarding funding model, our approach is to develop initiatives with specific work plans and objectives that serve an outcome in the public interest, and then seek funding to resource and successfully execute our initiative. The sources of funding usually comprise a mix of government, industry and foundations. We do not accept funds that are subject to conditions or restrictions on the outputs of our work in the public interest, or would otherwise compromise our independence of voice.
Ultimately, as a result of these values and principles, Pollution Probe must submit its work to be judged by its community of interest (and, more broadly, by our “market”) in terms of its quality, utility and impact.
Energy Exchange, as a special initiative of Pollution Probe, has been developed according to these same values and principles. We have aimed to produce a line-up of features and articles for the magazine that are grounded in fact and inclusive of a range of critical perspectives. This particular issue has a thematic focus on the movement of energy (future issues will focus on other aspects of our energy system). Because we strive to make this magazine the output of a collaborative effort, we convene an Editorial Board composed of independent experts and funders. To proceed with publication, the Editorial Board must express unanimous support for the story line-up and the final copy – majority does not rule.
More importantly, this magazine is only the start of the conversation – not the last word. Your response is part of the dialogue that we hope to advance. As mentioned earlier, Energy Exchange will launch new platforms to support a range of discussions in due course. In the meantime, I would like to ask you for permission to post your letter on the Energy Exchange website, where others can consider your concerns, our response and respond with their own views.
Ultimately, no amount of explanations or excuses should convince people of our motivations or intentions. The true test will be whether people increasingly regard Energy Exchange as an honest and reliable source or information and a fair broker of dialogue on energy, regardless of where the funding to sustain the enterprise originates. Put simply, if you learned something new in reading the magazine, then we’re beginning to have an impact. That we’re engaged in conversation about energy is even more important to our goal! I would invite you take another look at the content of the magazine, and please bring to my attention anything that seems an attempt to distort or misrepresent an issue, or mislead our readers.
As we develop and publish future issues, and as the overall Energy Exchange initiative engages more and more people across Canada, we are confident that a broader range of private sector supporters – not just oil and gas companies – will be drawn to the dialogue that Energy Exchange supports and the value that it creates.
Thank you, once again, for taking the time to express your concerns. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to present the view of Energy Exchange, and I’d be pleased to chat further by phone, if you wish. I hope that you will continue to monitor our activities and engage whenever you feel compelled to voice your opinion or challenge an assertion![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][mk_image image_width=”800″ image_height=”350″ crop=”true” lightbox=”false” frame_style=”simple” target=”_self” caption_location=”inside-image” align=”left” margin_bottom=”10″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][mk_padding_divider size=”40″][mk_button dimension=”three” size=”large” outline_skin=”dark” outline_active_color=”#fff” outline_hover_color=”#333333″ bg_color=”#13bdd2″ text_color=”light” icon=”moon-reading” url=”/resources/energy-exchange-magazine/issue-3/” target=”_self” align=”left” fullwidth=”true” margin_top=”0″ margin_bottom=”15″ animation=”fade-in”]Read more stories from the Winter 2015 issue of Energy Exchange magazine[/mk_button][/vc_column][/vc_row]