Politics Blog

GPT: Departure of PR firm Edelman ‘won’t impact anything’

News broke late last week in environmentalist social media circles that Edelman, reportedly the world’s largest public relations firm, had dropped Gateway Pacific Terminal as a client.

Gateway Pacific Terminal is the coal port proposed on a 1,500-acre site at Cherry Point. At full capacity, it would ship 48 million metric tons of coal annually to overseas markets, primarily in Asia.

The story appeared initially in Environment and Energy Publishing, an independent news site that is all but inaccessible to the hoi polloi due to subscription rates that range from $2,000 to $150,000 a year. But some advocacy groups are subscribers, and the news did filter down to Bellingham environmentalists.

I don’t have direct access to the story. I have seen two copies produced independently by two sources, and they are identical. I won’t reproduce it in full, per E&E Publishing’s copyright.

“Today (Friday, July 24), Edelman spokesman Chris Allieri said the firm had ‘ended our work on the Gateway Pacific Terminal project.’ He did not provide further details,” the report by Manuel Quiñones read.

In response to pressure from inside and outside the company, Edelman has been shedding clients who work in fossil fuels. The Guardian reported on July 7 that company executives and outside businesses were unhappy with how Edelman’s statements against climate change seemed to be contradicted by some of the clients it kept.

The same Edelman spokesman quoted by E&E Publishing, Allieri, told The Guardian that Edelman currently does not represent coal-industry clients. E&E noted that Edelman dropped Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports in 2013. The Alliance’s long list of members includes SSA Marine, the company that would build Gateway Pacific Terminal.

The Politics Blog asked for confirmation of the story from Craig Cole, a GPT spokesman and a principal at Straight Talk Consulting whose job was unaffected by the Edelman decision. Cole indicated that the proponents of Gateway Pacific Terminal don’t describe it as a coal port, strictly speaking.

“As you know, the GPT project is being designed and permitted to handle various dry bulk commodities over its life cycle. Edelman’s role in things was minor and won’t impact anything, to my knowledge,” Cole’s emailed statement read in full.