An anti-Keystone XL pipeline ad featuring a malevolent version of TransCanada Corp. CEO Russ Girling has proven too controversial to air for an NBC affiliate.
Washington, D.C.'s WRC-TV refused to air the ad, which was scheduled to appear on Tuesday during U.S. President Barack Obama's appearance on the Tonight Show, saying the commercial violated the station's guidelines. In the ad, an actor posing as Mr. Girling uses an oil pipeline as a water slide while making damaging remarks about Keystone.
"After a careful review, it was determined that this ad violates our guidelines," a station spokesperson said. "We have communicated that to the advertiser."
The move has prompted accusations of censorship and an online petition condemning the station's move.
NextGen Climate Action, which produced the ad, is a U.S.-based environmental group backed by hedge-fund billionaire Tom Steyer that is opposed to the Keystone pipeline.
Backers of TransCanada's proposed pipeline – which would ship crude from Alberta's oil sands to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast – say it will help reduce U.S. dependence on Mideast oil and create jobs. But the pipeline's foes say the prospect of spills carries too much environmental risk and that the increase in carbon emissions would exacerbate climate change.
"It seems that Comcast and NBCUniversal would rather take the fossil fuel industry's $153-million in television ad spending and leave the American people in the dark about the Keystone pipeline," said Brian Mahar, a spokesman for NextGen, in a statement.