March 15, 2011
ENBRIDGE HAIR HOAX EXPOSED
Group responsible offers free haircuts at Enbridge HQ at noon
Earlier today, the world learned of oil transport giant Enbridge’s strategy for handling inevitable oil spills along its proposed pipeline through pristine British Columbian wilderness: mop it up with human hair.
The cockamamie “MyHairCares” hoax, dreamed up by former oil workers and involving outreach to over 1000 hair salons, was promoted in a slick Video News Release and involved a flurry of conflicting press releases. The original story ran in a number of major news outlets (archive will be posted shortly here), but was pulled with no retraction or explanation after a terse denial by Enbridge that seemed to miss the point entirely. (For a longer, better denial, written on behalf of Enbridge by the pranksters, click here.)
“This was a funny way to dramatize the fact that neither Enbridge nor any other oil company can prevent spills, and that they basically have no cleanup plan,” said Shannon McPhail, a former Canadian oil worker and Canadian spokesperson for People Enbridge Ruined in Michigan (PERM), the group responsible for MyHairCares. “What's happening in Michigan proves that.”
Between 1999 and 2008 Enbridge recorded an average of more than one oil spill every week. Just last summer, an Enbridge pipeline spilled more than 800,000 gallons of oil into Michigan's Kalamazoo River. Enbridge is expected to face federal criminal charges for neglecting to maintain that pipeline; they are also accused of merely covering up, not actually cleaning up the oil. Further, a joint investigation by the Center for Public Integrity and CBS News found that Enbridge was coercing Kalamazoo spill victims into signing liability waiver forms. “Enbridge is manipulating and exploiting people who trust the company to do the right thing,” said former US Congressman Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., Chairman of the House Transportation Committee.
“We don’t want Canadian rivers or coastlines to end up like the oily mess that Enbridge has left in a number of places around here,” said US PERM spokesperson Rick Smith.
“In the U.S. Enbridge failed to maintain their pipeline, failed to clean up their mess, and are exploiting the victims,” said McPhail. “It would be madness to let them build a pipeline in Canada, especially through one of our planet’s last great wildernesses.”
Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline would cut across the Rocky Mountains, the pristine Great Bear rain forest, and over 1,000 streams and rivers. The pipeline would carry 700,000 barrels a day of petroleum products across 1,170 kilometres between Alberta’s Tar Sands and the Pacific Coast, where supertankers would carry the crude though the treacherous Douglas Channel—an area in which currents render conventional oil containment booms useless.
“A major spill on the coast or in a river would be devastating and irreversible,” said McPhail. “Canada must not trade in our wilderness just to make some foreign oil companies rich.”
One salon owner contacted after the ruse lauded the activists’ approach to getting the media to pay attention to one of the most pressing environmental issues in North America. "I wasn't tricked, I was educated,” said Brian Phillips, owner of World Salon in Toronto. “I had no idea what the people in Michigan were going through with Enbridge. We shouldn’t invite that treatment here in Canada.”
People Enbridge Ruined In Michigan (PERM) cooked up the “My Hair Cares” action with guidance from The Yes Men, as part of the Yes Lab for Creative Activism. Tomorrow, Canadian members of PERM will introduce themselves to the public during a noon press conference in front of Enbridge’s Vancouver offices. Free haircuts will available for all, and all clippings collected then (as well as any clippings mailed in by salons) will be donated to Michigan PERM members still struggling to clean up Enbridge’s mess in their community.
“Enbridge spends millions trying to convince people there's no problem,” noted McPhail. “We had to be a bit clever to compete with that.”
FREE HAIRCUTS: 12 noon PST, 505 Burrard St., Vancouver, CA
VIDEO DOWNLOAD: www.MyHairCares.com
Shannon McPhail (Smithers, BC), Canadian PERM spokesperson, 250-842-2494, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rick Smith (Michigan), US PERM spokesperson: 269-425-1822, email@example.com
Sean Devlin (Vancouver) , The Yes Lab: 778.321.7306, firstname.lastname@example.org