One of the things I really enjoy about our federal majority government is its backbone ... in this case its decision to jam up the U.S.-financed, eco-obstructionists on this side of the border who are doing their best to turn the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline hearings into a drawn out farce.
Just as the hearings began, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver released a tough letter condemning some opponents of the pipeline. He warns of “environmental and other radical groups” including “jet-setting celebrities” funded by foreign special interest groups who “threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological ends.”
The hearings into the controversial $5.5 billion pipeline to move Alberta crude to tankers at Kitimat started Monday and are expected to last 18 months. That’s about a year longer than initially anticipated because about 4,000 higher purpose people have asked to make oral presentations at hearings across northern B.C. and Alberta.
Never again, the Tories say. The government will introduce rules to greatly shorten environmental reviews of pipelines and other major projects, arguing that “radical groups” are exploiting the reviews to block proposals vital to Canada’s economic future.
EthicalOil, a pro-pipeline lobby group, has charged that “foreign billionaires” are helping finance local environmental organizations such as the Alberta-based Pembina Institute and B.C.’s Ecojustice to influence the outcome of the hearings.
Some credit for getting this issue on Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s radar should probably go to one of Vancouver Island’s most respected municipal legends, Port McNeill Mayor Gerry Furney.
He wrote the PM last year to complain about the “vast amounts of money being transferred by U.S. foundations to anti-industry Canadian foundations for distribution to activist groups.”
“I believe that a review should be undertaken of all these organizations that claim to be ‘charitable’ to ensure that they meet the stringent ‘charitable’ requirements of our government. If they do not meet the charitable standard that we expect, then their tax-free status should be rescinded. Is this possible?” Furney wrote.
Some of the best research on the big bucks behind B.C.’s eco-battles is being done by Vivian Krause, a Vancouver-based independent researcher who investigates the environmental movement’s lobbying efforts in Canada and its funding sources.
She calculates that over the past decade U.S. foundations have pumped $300 million into the environmental movement in Canada. Currently, she says, U.S. oil-backed foundations are funding Canadian environmentalists to the tune of $50 million a year.
One of the biggest Yankee foundations dedicated to poisoning Canada’s well is the Pew Charitable Trust. In its annual report for 2011, Pew reports that it has $4.9 billion in assets that originated from the founders of Sun Oil, a U.S. company. Since 2000 it has budgeted $44 million to protect Canada’s boreal forests which are home to some of the world’s largest deposits of energy and minerals. Pew has also given $15 million for marine research to Dr. Daniel Pauly at the University of British Columbia.
A successful campaign against the pipeline and oil tanker traffic on the north coast will mean that Alberta’s oil will remain landlocked and the Americans will continue to enjoy virtual monopoly control over our oil exports.
And, they, not us, will be laughing all the way to the bank. M