ts_profiteers

The Dirt :: March 19, 2013

By DirtyOilSands.org

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

ts_profiteers

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“The provincial ad totally misses the point in identifying that greenhouse gas emissions are minimal when oilsands are extracted…. Today’s bottom line is whether taxpayers should be paying to lobby for projects instead of being welcome to effectively contribute to decision-making on them.”

~ Warren Fenton, Environment Canada’s former head of environmental impact assessment in western and northern Canada, writing about the Alberta government’s pro-Keystone XL ad in the New York Times

FEATURE DIRT

Canadian Conservatives Shill for Big Oil

scientists_call_slider

It’s one thing for Big Oil to spend big bucks on advertising to promote big projects, but should Canadian governments be spending taxpayer dollars to promote a controversial pipeline in a foreign country?

Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives apparently think so. The Alberta government, which has been dominated by the Conservative’s for the forty years, paid the New York Times 30,000 taxpayer dollars to run a misleading advertisementmeant to promote TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline that a recent New York Times editorial condemned as something U.S. President Barack Obama “cannot in good conscience approve.”

The ad was purchased after the New York Times turned down the offer of a guest editorial from Alberta Premier Redford. Entitled “Keystone XL: The Choice of Reason,” the ad contained the logos of both the Province of Alberta and the Government of Canada. It claims that America’s desire to effectively balance strong environmental policy, energy security and economic health “mirrors” that of Alberta, a jurisdiction, the ad contends, that is a “responsible energy developer”. In a logical leap across the chasm of incredulity, it then suggests that approving Keystone XL is the “choice of reason,” a decision that should be made based on “science and fact” rather than the emotional opposition of the projects detractors.

Numerous Canadians expressed outrage that the Alberta government would spend taxpayers’ money on a disingenuous act of greenwashing to support a project that will largely benefit corporations without creating much in the way of employment or economic activity in America, a project that comes with significant environmental risks that will be borne by Americans (in the case of the inevitable spills) and the rest of the world (in the case of increased greenhouse emissions).

In a “featured” letter-to-the-editor in the Edmonton Journal, long-time Alberta resident and Environment Canada’s former head of environmental impact assessment in western and northern Canada Warren Fenton asks whether “Albertans and Canadians want such ads to be factual and not simply self-serving propaganda?”

“The provincial ad totally misses the point in identifying that greenhouse gas emissions are minimal when oilsands are extracted…. Today’s bottom line is whether taxpayers should be paying to lobby for projects instead of being welcome to effectively contribute to decision-making on them.”

In a recent editorial in The Hill Times, Mark Jaccard, a professor of Environmental Economics at Simon Fraser University, wrote that “my Canadian government and the tar sands industries who want Keystone argue that somehow, miraculously, increasing carbon polluting infrastructure will not increase carbon pollution. (George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth has nothing on these guys.) They argue that even without Keystone Alberta tar sands would be developed to the same extent. So you might as well approve Keystone – so the argument goes. But this is simply not true.”

Jaccard claims that Keystone would help tar sands producers expand output by 50 to 100 per cent, and that if it is not approved, output would stay constant.

“But this is where the magicians offer their next deception. They claim that even without Keystone tar sands production would increase because the oil would simply be shipped to China via a Northern Gateway pipeline through British Columbia. You might as well build Keystone and keep the oil from going to China, so the magicians argue. In fact, the likelihood of this is slim – and getting slimmer every day. The reason is British Columbia. My province is the Canadian, and perhaps the North American, epicenter of two important social movements – environmentalism and rights activism by aboriginal peoples.”

In the end, Jaccard concludes that Keystone XL should be rejected because it will hinder tar sands expansion and the doubling of greenhouse gas emissions it will cause, and that “believing otherwise is nothing more than a magician’s delusion. If U.S. policy makers don’t want to lock-in a Sandy-Katrina future for our children, rejecting Keystone is one of the most obvious and easiest steps.”

Canada’s federal Conservative Party of Canada, at least, had the good sense not to spend (more) taxpayer dollars shilling for Big Oil. Instead, the federal Tories have launched a pro-Keystone XL fundraising campaign so party members can donate their hard-earned cash to promote the Alberta and federal governments’ pet project. In its plea, Canada’s federal Conservative Party said it needs the money to compete against anti-Keystone arguments made in the U.S. recently by Thomas Mulcair, leader of Canada’s official opposition, the New Democratic Party.

But Mulcair isn’t the only doubting Thomas. The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) opposes the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, and is calling for a full accounting of the public money spent lobbying for it.

“The Conservatives have spent millions of public dollars to push for a pipeline that will export Canadian jobs, trample First Nations rights undermine domestic industrial policy and is bad for the environment” said CEP National President Dave Coles. “In their obsession for this job-killing export pipeline, the Conservatives have even insinuated that the leader of the official opposition is a traitor,” said Coles. “They are so far out in left field on this issue and it is time they live up to the costs of their adventures down south.”

What self-respecting Conservative would donate money to an Orwellian disinformation campaign to support a job-killing pipeline project that would facilitate the doubling of greenhouse gases produced by the tar sands? Doesn’t seem very conservative to us.