The next great pipeline debate – and U.S. funding – by Gary Mason (Globe and Mail – September 29, 2011)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

“In the past few years, the tenacious Vancouver-based and
independently financed writer [Vivian Krause] has parted
the curtains on the extent to which environmental groups
in Canada are funded by American organizations. (Her website,
fair-questions.com) … Ms. Krause estimates there’s $50-
million in American funding pouring into the Canadian
Environmental movement every year.” (Gary Mason)

The politics of oil is a grimy business. Look at what’s going on in the United States right now and you can see just how dirty things can get. Debate around the Keystone XL pipeline has been rancorous and divisive. In the end, concern for jobs is likely to trump worries over the pipeline’s environmental impact.

The movement against Keystone has mostly played itself out in America. But the next great pipeline debate will unfold right here in Canada. The stage is already being set.

National Geographic recently devoted a cover spread to the pending tussle over the proposed $5.5-billion, 1,700-kilometre Enbridge pipeline. It would run from Edmonton to the coastal port town of Kitimat, B.C., where, in theory, tankers bound for energy-thirsty markets in Asia would fill up with Alberta crude.

“Pipeline through paradise,” was the headline on the National Geographic story. In it, Ian McAllister, co-founder of the Canadian wilderness protection organization Pacific Wild, said Enbridge will precipitate the biggest environmental battle the country has ever witnessed. “It’s going to be a bare-knuckle fight.”

Opposition to Enbridge largely centres on concerns over an Exxon Valdez-scale spill befouling one of the most pristine and ecologically sacred places on Earth: the Great Bear Rainforest, a 64,000-square-kilometre area that’s home to the rare Kermode (white) bear. Lining up behind environmental groups in opposition to the pipeline are the Coastal First Nations.

It goes without saying that the project represents potential billions in revenue for Alberta and the federal government, not to mention thousands of jobs. In fragile economic times, it’ll be difficult for Ottawa to turn its back on the deal.

The debate over Enbridge is likely to take many different turns before it runs its course. But one of the talking points could well be the role that American charitable foundations are playing in Canadian environmental politics.

The federal government recently said no to a funding agreement to develop a Pacific North Coast oceans management plan. Environmentalists accused Ottawa of bending to pressure from the West Coast shipping industry and big oil interests, allegedly concerned that the oceans plan was a cover to oppose the Enbridge pipeline. (Both groups deny lobbying the feds to torpedo the oceans strategy.)

The Conservative government may also have been concerned by the findings of researcher Vivian Krause. In the past few years, the tenacious Vancouver-based and independently financed writer has parted the curtains on the extent to which environmental groups in Canada are funded by American organizations. (Her website, fair-questions.com, is visited regularly by everyone from the RCMP to the federal auditor-general to the Oval Office in Washington.)

For the rest of this article, please go to the Globe and Mail website: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/opinion/the-next-great-pipeline-debate-and-us-funding/article2183615/

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