PIPELINES – Opposition to Canadian pipelines largely funded by Americans

To maintain secrecy, large U.S. environmental foundations simply “purchased” the co-operation of Canadian organizations to stop Alberta oil from reaching international markets

Research Associate
Frontier Centre for Public Policy

“THE MEEK will inherit the earth … if that’s okay with everybody else,” goes the old joke.

When it comes to developing Canada’s energy sector, that trite joke seems all too true. The Northern Gateway, Energy East, and Pacific NorthWest LNG pipeline proposals have been scrapped.

Lee Harding.

Scotiabank estimates that the Canadian economy forfeits $15.6 billion a year as other pipeline proposals await approval.

Has this happened because Canadians organically and collectively decided the environmental impact was too great?

No. This actually happened because uber-rich American environmental foundations planned and paid for this very result.

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project may be the best proof of this claim. Kinder Morgan built its first Trans Mountain pipeline in 1953. In 2008, it added 158 km of pipeline in its AnchorLoop Project. The project that sent oil straight through Jasper National Park happened without hiccups and even captured awards for its environmental responsibility. Nevertheless, the Trans Mountain expansion project has met fierce resistance, even though most of it simply twins the existing route. Why?

Follow the money, as researcher Vivian Krauss did, and you’ll find out.

In 2008, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Tides Foundation sponsored the Tar Sands Campaign to curtail Alberta oil. The 17-page strategy paper by Corporate Ethics International is still available. A decade later, its success is undeniable. Its agenda was to “Stop or limit the expansion of pipelines, up-graders and refineries,” cap oilsands development and isolate Albertan crude to Alberta has largely succeeded.

“From the very beginning,” the Tar Sands Campaign website tells us, “the campaign strategy was to land-lock the tar sands so the crude could not reach the international market where it could fetch a high price per barrel. This meant national and grassroots organizing to block all proposed pipelines.”

A grassroots campaign is doomed when its participants, and the public at large, realize that the whole thing is bankrolled by Americans trying to kill Canadian resource sales. That’s why the strategy paper advised secrecy: “The Coordination Center shall remain invisible to the outside and to the extent possible, staff will be ‘purchased’ from engaged organizations.”

The foundations stuck to the plan. Tides gave $36 million to more than 100 organizations in Canada, the U.S. and Europe to campaign against oilsands development and the transportation of oil to refineries and ports. Likewise, the Hewlett Foundation has given $90 million to First Nations and environmental groups in British Columbia and the western U.S. to oppose oil and gas development. More than 60 groups also get behind-the-scenes and ghost-writing support from NetChange, a private American company funded to “support and amplify” the campaign.

An essential part of the campaign strategy was “a steady drumbeat of bad press” to make the oilsands look as dirty as the “tar” label they use. It seems they were ready not only to smear but to lie. Although the oilsands cover just one per cent of Alberta’s boreal forest, some environmental groups have declared it as big as Florida. Others assert that the carbon footprint in the oilsands is three or four times larger than the average unit produced in the United States. The reality is, it is only 10 to 20 per cent larger – and still better than California heavy oil.

What else did oilsands opponents do?

Krauss tells us: “Among the strategies employed by the Tar Sands Campaign are legal action, putting land and marine access off-limits in the name of protecting wildlife habitat, fomenting First Nations opposition and leveraging their constitutional rights, lobbying and celebrity endorsement.” If you ever wondered why Jane Fonda flew a fuel-powered helicopter over the oilsands or 150 First Nations allied to oppose them, wonder no more.

Strange thing, though: every First Nation whose reserve the pipeline passes through has agreed to its passage. So have 80 per cent of such communities even close to the route. Could the $400 million in agreements Kinder Morgan made with those 51 communities have had something to do with it?

Probably, and that’s a good thing. Canadians should decide what’s best for Canada. The economic potential of pipeline construction and oil exports is a substantial benefit for everyone who lives here.

Now that we know about the Americans forking out millions of dollars to hold us back, we should stop listening to the politicians and protesters they hire.

Lee Harding is a research associate for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

© Troy Media

About Mel Rothenburger (6691 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

9 Comments on PIPELINES – Opposition to Canadian pipelines largely funded by Americans

  1. I’m against the pipeline, for a variety of reasons, some environmental, and some financial (as in, when did government in business EVER work out well for the taxpayers!). Yet, nobody has paid me a dime! Clearly I’m protesting wrong….

  2. Imagine !!! American money being spent to stop foreign ( ie Canadian) oil from crossing and possibly destroying American Indian soil and water.It is basically a lie that most tribes and bands supported the DAPL.

  3. I have volunteered for years with Kamloops 350, Transition Kamloops, and the local chapter of the BC Sustainable Energy Association, all groups that actively oppose the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure. I guess the cheques to all three of them from those rich American foundations must have gotten lost in the mail?!? Goodbye, Armchair Mayor — I’m unsubscribing to try the new online paper. I hope they carry higher quality content than this “rent a raving right-wing nutter” service, Troy Media.

    • Mel Rothenburger // April 24, 2018 at 8:59 PM // Reply

      That’s unfortunate. My objective is to provide differing points of view, including those that conflict with my own. On environmental issues, I publish all sides as much as possible, including, for example, David Suzuki.

      • Sean McGuinness // April 25, 2018 at 9:21 AM //

        I agree with you Mel, but I would also be aware of the organizations that these people represent.
        I visited the Frontier Centre for Public Policy website ( which at first glance seems to be an innocuous conservative organization. But some of the opinion pieces are awful. For example, the recent column “Inspiring but not educating” appears to make a case for having the residential school system. Lee Harding certainly isn’t the worst, but FCPP as an organization is abhorrent to me.

  4. Sean McGuinness // April 24, 2018 at 7:53 AM // Reply

    We are living in an era where oil and pipeline companies spend billions promoting their interests.
    Then they complain about about the opposition getting funding from people/organizations concerned about the environment. The $36 million or $90 million is a paltry sum compared to what oil companies spend. There are plenty of centres, institutes, and “think tanks”, especially in the U.S. which receive funding from people like the Koch brothers. I suggest people visit the
    Frontier Centre for Public Policy website: to get an idea of what these guys are peddling (where things like “climate change alarmism” appear).

    • I’m sorry too Gisela. Your comments are well taken but by running away, this raving right wing nutter suceedes in what may have been his goal.To eliminate or at least divide the opposition.I have felt the same way several times but will continue to comment against the nut jobs I see here.Most of them just show me how weak and insubstantial their arguments are.They tend to figuratively cut their own throat.To play devil’s advocate is often a valid and effective road to the truth.

      • Mel Rothenburger // April 24, 2018 at 10:46 PM //

        Thanks for your thoughts, Tony. I purposely pick a variety of opinions intended to challenge our thinking, not simply conform to one position or another.

  5. David Goar // April 24, 2018 at 7:11 AM // Reply

    This is not “journalism”. It is the carefully crafted opinion of a paid fossil fuel lobbyist, masquerading as a revelation.

    Isn’t it possible to have some objectivity and balance in this debate? Must Canada inevitably follow the example of our southern neighbor and engage in fractious and divisive public discourse in which each side continually attempts to vilify those who take a contrary view. Such an approach results in a race to the bottom, in both politics and societal cohesiveness.

    There are strong, intelligent arguments on both sides of this issue. This is not one of them.

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