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O'Dwyer's Newsletter - August 29, 2011 - Vol. 44 - No. 33 (download PDF version)

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Bryan Cave is spearheading TransCanada’s effort to win federal approval for its $7B Keystone pipeline project that would transport heavy oil from the tar sands of Alberta to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

The State Dept. on Aug. 26 gave its preliminary approval of the pipeline, opening a 90-day comment period. President Obama expects to weigh in on the construction by the end of the year.

The New York Times ran an Aug. 21 editorial ripping the project, citing the risk of oil spills and greenhouse gas emissions connected with the process.

A coalition of green groups (Greenpeace, Sierra Club, Rainforest Action Network, Environmental Defense Fund and Natural Resources Defense Council) penned a letter to Obama on Aug. 25 that rapped Keystone as a “terrible project" that “risks many of our national treasures to leaks and spills” and “reduces incentives to make the transition to job-creating clean fuels.” They said Obama's ruling is “perhaps the biggest climate test you face now and before the election.”

The groups noted “there is not an inch of daylight between our policy position on the Keystone Pipeline and those of the very civil protesters being arrested outside the White House.” More than 275 anti-Keystone demonstrators, including Canadians actress Margot Kidder, were arrested last week.

TransCanada says the pipeline will create thousands of jobs and improve North American energy security. Canada’s natural resources minister Joe Oliver called approval of the pipeline a “very important” issue for both his country and the U.S.

TransCanada, according to federal records, has spent $530K for U.S. lobbying outlays during the first-half of 2011. BC has received $240K in that period from TC. It fields a team that includes David Russell, ex-chief of staff to former Alaskan Republican Senator Ted Stevens; Broderick Johnson, former Congressional liaison for President Clinton, and Jeff Berman, aide to former Democratic Majority Leader Dick Gephardt.

Neil Palmer & Associates has worked PR for the project.


Matt Klink, president of Los Angeles public affairs and PR firm Cerrell Associates, plans to step down from the firm after 20 years in October for a corporate affairs post at Philip Morris International in Switzerland.


PMI has been a client of the firm.

“Leaving Cerrell Associates was a difficult decision,” said Klink, who joined CA in 1991. “However, the prospect of living and working in Luasanne, Switzerland, was an opportunity neither my family nor I simply could not turn down.”

Cerrell CEO Hal Dash recalled Klink's key work on statewide ballot measures and large issues management campaigns, but acknowledged the PMI offer was the “opportunity of a lifetime.”

Klink is one of Cerrell's four managing partners, along with Dash, president Lisa Gritzer and CFO Steve Bullock.


The Palestine Liberation Organization has hired Bell Pottinger USA for strategic communications, PR, media relations and U.S. Congressional outreach as the United Nations may vote next month to recognize Palestine as an independent state.

The United States opposes that tally and members of Congress have threatened to cut off aid in the event that statehood is granted to the Palestinian Authority.

David Sowells, who worked for Britain's Labour Party and served as PA director of Time Warner, heads the U.K.-based firm's U.S. operations.

Bell Pottinger has been active in the so-called Arab Spring, propping up governments in Bahrain and Yemen.

Parent company, Chime Communications, though blamed the uprising for a slip in PR revenues for the first-half of this year.

In announcing its financial results, Chime said the Arab Spring “created some short-term challenges, but in the medium to long-term the opportunities for us to provide communications advice to emerging governments are considerable.”

Bell Pottinger has used Qorvis Communications, which handles Saudi Arabia, as a subcontractor on some Middle East work.


Girls Scouts of the USA will work with Edelman on a variety of PR initiatives for the group's centennial slated for 2012.

CRT/tanaka, the organization's agency of record for a decade, continues in that capacity handling crisis comms. and PR counsel. The firm will also support 100th anniversary events.

Edelman's New York office will handle strategic counsel, media relations, consumer engagement, issues management support, and social and online media assets for the national celebration, which is expected to run into 2013.

In a statement, Girls Scouts CEO Kathy Cloninger called the centennial a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to engage the nation on issues related to girls, women and leadership. “We’re excited to partner with Edelman in convening that national discourse so that we can ensure that every girl has the opportunity to achieve her leadership potential,” she said.

The organization counts three million members and 50M alumnae. Denise Peisch is VP for communications.


Rhode Island's tourism promotion entity is trolling for PR and social media pitches with an RFP process open through Sept. 8.

The Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation's Tourism Division issued an RFP on Aug. 18 to provide and execute an integrated social media marketing and PR strategy.

Tourism is a key cog in the Ocean State's economy, representing $2.31B in revenue and supporting more than 66K jobs as the fourth largest industry.

Estimated budget for PR and social media is $10K/month.


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