Let’s be frank: Building pipelines is about breaking the U.S.
monopoly on energy exports from Western Canada. If Canada builds
pipelines to tidewater and gains access to overseas markets, the
United States loses its exclusive access on Canadian energy exports.
Lacking pipelines to ocean ports, Canada has had only one
potential customer: the United States. This has benefited the
U.S. because it forced the sale of Alberta oil at prices that are
lower than the U.S. would pay elsewhere.
How things can change – and fast. In just a few years, we
have gone from talk of “peak oil” at $200 per barrel to “peak
demand” and oil priced as low as $20 because today’s oil market is
over-supplied. Low prices have put many oil producing countries
on the brink. The only oil exporting country that can be bullied
out of the global oil market without risking civil unrest, is Canada.
Given the international dimensions of the oil market, it is
important to note that the anti-pipeline activism against Alberta
oil is heavily funded by sources outside of Canada.
Anti-pipeline activism is not like the environmental protests
of the 1990s which were run by volunteers with very little outside
funding or none at all. Today’s protests are staged as part of a
professionally organized campaign, run by paid employees at
charities and non-profits with funding from billionaire philan thropists
in the U.S. This concerted effort is referred to by its funders
as “The Tar Sands Campaign.”
From Neil Young concerts to First Nations lawsuits, The
Tar Sands Campaign is centrally planned and coordinated by
NetChange, a private company run by Jason Mogus. From his
home office in a tree house on Salt Spring Island, Jason Mogus
and his employees do ghost-writing and provide communica tions
back-up to more than 60 environmental groups and First
Nations involved in the Tar Sands Campaign.
Mogus’s job, he says, is to create “the appearance of a move ment.”
Here’s his description of the campaign against Keystone
XL: “Inside/outside was totally coordinated. Not an inch of
daylight. Major aligned channels. Major inside game.” That is a
description of a professional show, not an amateur operation.
Let’s be clear: The goal of The Tar Sands Campaign is nothing
short of thwarting the development of the oil sands and stop ping
export of Alberta oil by pipeline, rail and tanker.
Re-routing pipelines and capping emissions to appease activists is a fool’s
errand because the Tar Sands Campaign doesn’t seek to optimize
or improve oil sands operations. Rather, this campaign aims at
nothing short of restricting the industry’s growth and stopping
overseas exports altogether.
According to strategy documents produced as part of The
Tar Sands Campaign, two of the main allegations cited in its
rationale are: 1) carbon emissions produced from oil sands
operations are three to four times higher than conventional oil.