In July of 2010, an Enbridge, Inc., underwater pipeline burst and spilled hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River. The spill prompted the evacuation of nearby residents and, over the months that followed, a clean-up effort that cost Enbridge an estimated $1.2 billion. This paper examines the evolving relationship between Enbridge and the state and federal agencies that govern Michigan’s water quality and safety—from the 2010 Kalamazoo River spill to the 2015 full-scale exercises in the Straits of Mackinac. I argue that Enbridge’s extended postcrisis communications in response to the Kalamazoo River spill represented an attempt at renewal discourse, but this attempt was hindered by the complexities of competing values and implications for entrenched public controversies. As a means of explanation, I use Ulmer, Seeger, and Sellnow’s (2007) work on crisis conditions conducive to renewal to illustrate how the conditions of the 2010 Kalamazoo River oil spill were not conducive to renewal. Postcrisis communications about oil spills seem to present unique challenges to the discourse of renewal perspective, but—to borrow the optimism inherent in that perspective—it may be possible to extend the framework to suggest ways for stakeholders to communicate about their collective responsibility for balancing environmental conservancy with fossil fuel consumption.
|State||Published - Apr 2016|
|Event||Central States Communication Association - Grand Rapids, MI|
Duration: Apr 1 2016 → Apr 30 2016
|Conference||Central States Communication Association|
|Period||04/1/16 → 04/30/16|