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Anti-Tourism Campaign Tars Alberta, Canada, Draws Parallels to Gulf Spill

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The next region to lose tourists to the Gulf oil disaster might be… Alberta, Canada–not because of any direct connection to what’s going on in the Gulf states, but as the result of an “anti-tourism” campaign from Corporate Ethics International.

The Rethink Alberta advertisements, launched this week, feature billboards in Seattle, Minneapolis, Portland and Denver declaring Alberta to be “the other oil disaster.” The signage makes parallels to the Gulf disaster by featuring both an oil-coated brown pelican at the Gulf spill site sitting next to a pair of dead ducks smothered
in tar from Alberta’s oil sands. The combination print and web campaign is expected to go on indefinitely.

Alberta’s Athabasca Oil Sands contain 1.6 trillion barrels of oil trapped in bitumen, a sticky, tar-like form of petroleum. The oil recovery process is extremely energy-intensive– it spews three times as many greenhouse gases as in recovery process for conventional crude oil and dirties three barrels of water for every barrel of oil, according to Solve Climate.

While we sympathize with CEI’s campaign to keep tourists out of Alberta until the local government halts oil sands production, we wonder about the unintended effects it could have on the 109,000 people who work in the region’s $5 billion tourism industry. It makes about as much sense as boycotting Louisiana for supporting offshore drilling.

Still, the campaign got us thinking: what other areas with ugly environmental problems might CEI consider for future campaigns? Perhaps West Virginia and its penchant for mountaintop removal?

Or Nevada’s infamous Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository?

Have other ideas? Let us know in the comments.

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