After Airing Pro-Keystone XL Ads, NBC Station Rejects Ad Opposing The Pipeline

NBC has rejected an ad opposing the Keystone XL pipeline, despite running ads in favor of its construction. The climate group NextGen Climate Action says it was notified at the last minute Tuesday night that a Washington, D.C. NBC station rejected its ad, submitted for President Obama’s appearance on the Tonight Show. A representative for the group suggested that the station may have bowed to oil corporate pressure in rejecting the ad and challenged the station to disavow that polluter interests played a role in the decision.

“Given that we complied with the station’s process, the fact that the ad is accurate in exposing TransCanada’s representation regarding the Keystone Pipeline and WRC/NBC’s history of taking advertising petro-dollars, something simply does not smell right here,” Executive Director of NextGen Tom Adams said in a statement.

The ad submitted to WRC Monday parodies TransCanada CEO Russ Girling and its suspect claims that the pipeline would lead to energy independence and create tens of thousands of jobs. The Hill’s Ben Geman noted that an oil industry-run group immediately criticized the new ad.

“After a careful review, it was determined that this ad violates our guidelines. We have communicated that to the advertiser,” a WRC spokesperson said.


According to NBC’s advertising guidelines, anything that appears to be “an attack of a personal nature, a direct attack on an individual business or a comment on a private dispute” can be considered unacceptable content.

Meanwhile, NBC has aired its share of pro-Keystone XL ads. Just this Sunday, a TransCanada-sponsored ad ran during Meet The Press that claimed tar sands oil is “cleaner” and would have “little impact” on climate change.

What TransCanada’s ads don’t mention is that the pipeline could cost consumers up to $4 billion per year in higher gas prices, at the same time it offloads the consequences of pipeline spills and climate change onto Americans.

The corporation that stands to gain the most from the pipeline has launched aggressive media campaigns in Washington and across the country (In fact, this week’s Politico Playbook is sponsored by TransCanada). To combat grassroots pressure for Obama to against the pipeline, the oil, gas, and coal industries have been major advertising customers in the past, having spent well over $153 million worth of ads during the 2012 election season.

TransCanada’s aggressive media blitz is exactly why climate activists intended to run the ad during Obama’s interview. “We know The Tonight Show will draw many of President Obama’s supporters, which provides an opportunity to showcase the bad business deal that TransCanada is pushing on the American people,” billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer, NextGen’s founder, said yesterday, before the group was notified.

Disclosure: Tom Steyer is a member of the Board of Directors at the Center for American Progress.