$84-billion per year, that’s the potential impact the oil sands could have on the Canadian economy. The industry it could be argued is the most important economic issue we will have.
The greatest hindrance to future projects appears to be the gridlock due to opposition from environmental organizations and First Nations. This gridlock has been instigated by the Tar Sands Campaign. If you are not familiar with it, the organization was launched by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Tides Foundation six years ago..
The explicit goal is to stop expansion of the Canadian oil industry, to reduce demand for oil sands crude in the U.S. and to stop or stall pipeline and port construction.
Alberta has a timely opportunity to break the gridlock that risks keeping its oil out of global markets. The challenge is to convincingly make the case that industry is trustworthy and committed to meeting the public’s high expectations for protection of the environment. This will not be easy if the Tar Sands Campaign goes on unabated.
Recent developments indicate, however, that the Tar Sands Campaign is likely to continue and to expand. The same groups that oppose Keystone XL and Northern Gateway are now funded to campaign against Energy East, Line 9, Line 67, Flanagan South, the Seaway and Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd.’s TransMountain pipeline expansion. The Sierra Club claims to have more than 94,000 people who are prepared to engage in civil disobedience and risk arrest to block pipeline construction.
Over the past five years, I have gone though more than 100,000 pages of U.S. tax returns and traced more than 2,000 grants from U.S. foundations to environmental and First Nations groups in Canada.
While the volunteer activists on the front lines of the Tar Sands Campaign are every bit as Canadian as I am, their big funders are not. According to U.S. tax returns and other documents, the Tar Sands Campaign is co-funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Oak Foundation, the Tides Foundation, the Sea Change Foundation, the Marisla Foundation and at least a dozen other foundations – most of which are based in California.
By my analysis, more than a dozen U.S. foundations have granted at least US$75 million between 2009 and 2013 for initiatives that stymie the Canadian energy sector. Last year, funding from outside Canada accounted for less than seven per cent of the Suzuki Foundation’s total revenue but it wasn’t always that way. In the early years when it was getting on its feet, more than half of the Suzuki Foundation’s yearly budget came from U.S. sources.
Canada’s three largest conservation initiatives are the Great Bear Rainforest on B.C.’s strategic north coast, the Yukon to Yellowstone Initiative (Y2Y) and the Canadian Boreal Initiative. These initiatives seek to block roads, mining, forestry, and oil and gas development on more than one-third of Canada’s national territory.
For all three of Canada’s large conservation initiatives, the main funder is a U.S. foundation.
The Tar Sands Campaign pointedly ignores the dozens of tankers bringing foreign oil into the United States and Eastern Canada on a daily basis. Evidently, the only tankers this campaign opposes are those that would break the U.S. market’s monopoly on Canadian oil exports.
In North Dakota and Texas where oil production is booming, there is no multimillion-dollar campaign to stop or slow down the oil industry. As far as I can tell, the only country where there is a systematic, multimillion-dollar, foreign-funded campaign to choke the oil industry is Canada.
Whether intentional or not, environmental activism is becoming a new form of protectionism. By exaggerating risks and impacts, activists exert such political and social pressure that major infrastructure projects can be stalled or stopped altogether, land-locking Canadian oil and gas and keeping Canada over a barrel.
Activism is important, but when it comes to budgets for influencing public opinion, the tides have changed. Environmentalists now have access to substantial resources. For the fossil fuel industries, the battle with environmental activists is no longer David versus Goliath.
(excerpt from Alberta Oil article by )