I love ice cream. Who doesn’t?
There’s something indescribably and intrinsically good about ice cream. Simple and delicious.
If there’s anything that should be safe from the hypocritical bluster of pop culture’s anti-oil and gas crusade, it should be ice cream. Right?
Let carbon-burning Hollywood celebrities and special interest groups fight that battle. Every time they do, we get to talk about how great the Canadian oil and gas industry is. But ice cream fits way better packed tightly into a sprinkle-dipped waffle cone than it does in politics.
Why, then, is Ben and Jerry’s – iconic ice cream maker and fine purveyor of many eclectic flavours – attacking the Keystone XL pipeline?
After President Donald Trump gave Keystone the green light, the company issued a press release stating, “Are pipelines really that bad? Yes, they are.”
In case you didn’t know, Ben and Jerry’s has long made environmentalism a cornerstone of their marketing strategy. This is known as “greenwashing” – packaging your brand in trendy environmental-speak in order to signal your eco-credentials to the marketplace. Ben and Jerry’s is in the business of making ice cream, shipping ice cream, and keeping ice cream cold – not exactly a low-carbon endeavour.
Let’s look at some numbers.
A quick Google search suggests the company’s annual sales revenues are in the neighbourhood of $130 million. At about $5 USD per pint, that’s 26 million pints sold.
Now, Ben and Jerry’s tells us they’ve calculated the per-pint CO2 emissions of their product. It’s 3 lbs. Using that figure, we can reasonably argue Ben and Jerry’s spews about 78 million pounds of carbon dioxide into the air every year.
What does that look like?
Commercial airliners produce 50 lbs of CO2 for every mile they travel. That means Ben and Jerry’s produces as much CO2 as 234 round trip flights between New York and Paris.
Put another way, it’s enough CO2 to fuel 241,000 single-vehicle round trips down the Alberta highway that connects Edmonton and Calgary.
The math isn’t precise, but no matter how you look at it, it’s pretty clear: Ben and Jerry’s would be nowhere if they didn’t produce a lot of CO2.
So why are they lecturing everybody else about pollution? Moreoever, why are they attacking pipelines?
Let’s address their “pipelines are bad” claim.
Pipelines are not bad. In fact, they are essential energy infrastructure that makes our everyday life possible. They safely deliver the energy we all need to operate the farm where dairy cows live, keep the ice cream those cows produce cold, and transport that ice cream to the grocery store.
Oil and gas helps create the plastic Ben and Jerry’s uses in every tub of ice cream. It supports the 30-minute tours around their main factory in Vermont. It makes it possible for every “half-baked” product to be delivered that to locations throughout the world.
And let’s remember that Canada’s oil and gas industry employs countless engineers, scientists and experts who see things differently.
Brenda Kenney, the former CEO of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association recently stated, “I would feel more secure now than ever” making the case for Canadian pipelines.
Ms. Kenney pointed out that:
- Pipeline accidents are so rare that there is one chance of a pipeline spill of more than 50 barrels occurring in 20,000 years.
- In 2014, the amount of oil spilled by pipelines would barely fill two-thirds of a rail car.
- In half a century of transportation of oil and gas on 117,000 kilometres of pipelines, there were two fatalities, one in Alberta and one in Ontario. Both individuals were operating backhoes, failed to do the required checks and suffered the consequences of striking a gas pipeline.
- Regulators today are weighing and testing more evidence than ever.
And the experts who work with the Government of Canada agree. Natural Resources Canada believes that “Safe and reliable pipeline systems are critical to ensuring that our natural resources reach their destined markets and that our energy sector remains resilient and sustainable.”
If Ben and/or Jerry is reading, there is one really obvious step you can take if you truly want to “end fossil fuels,” as you’ve claimed. The most effective to do that is to eliminate your carbon footprint. In the case of Ben and Jerry’s, that would amount to 78 million pounds of CO2 pumped into the air every year.
Of course, that won’t happen. Ben and Jerry’s will keep making their delicious treats, making hundreds of millions of dollars. But do us all a favour.
Quit acting like you’re better than people working in the most environmentally friendly oil and gas industry in the world.
Stop attacking your customers – the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who work in the oil and gas industry and helped make Ben and Jerry’s the success it now is.
As for me, I have had my last pint of Ben and Jerry’s for the foreseeable future. Goodbye chunky monkey.