Multimillion-dollar campaigns by large American foundations are supplementing a $100 million pledge by billionaire anti-fossil activist Tom Steyer to block Obama administration Keystone XL pipeline approval.
These assaults upon the pipeline and Canadian oil industry are prompting government audits of several environmental U.S. front groups operating in Canada regarding their tax-exempt compliance with political restrictions.
The obstructionist strategy follows a plan hatched in 2008 by the Rockefeller Foundation claiming adverse impacts upon native Indian populations as primary rationale. San Francisco-based Tides Foundation (Tides USA) is a big player.
Information obtained by Financial Post writer Vivian Krause reveals that virtually every organization campaigning against the Alberta oil industry was funded by this organization. The common purpose is to foment opposition to pipeline construction, including infrastructure essential for exporting Canadian energy to global markets.
The payment cover letters signed by interim Tides USA CEO Gary D. Schwarz stipulated that each recipient organization agreed “not to use any portion of the granted funds to carry on propaganda or attempt to influence either specific legislation either by direct or grass-roots lobbying.” Examples of Tides USA payments dating just between June and October 2013 alone include references that indicate otherwise:
- The Pembina Foundation: was paid $225,000 to advance “the narrative that oil sands expansion is problematic, land use decisions that slow expansion, and improved climate policy . . . to provide regular briefings to the Tar Sands Group and broaden the base of key influencers.” They also received another $55,000 “for furthering awareness of the negative impacts of the tar sands economy,” and responded by releasing a report “Booms, Busts, and Bitumen.”
- The Great Bear Initiative Society: was paid $65,000 to work with other organizations to “raise awareness of the cost of an oil spill,” plus another $25,000 to "maintain opposition to oil tankers, and to increase public support against the Northern Gateway pipeline."
- The Sierra Club BC: was paid $15,000 through the Tides Canada Foundation Exchange Fund for a project called “Our Coast, Our Call: Mobilizing and Strengthening Opposition to Tanker Expansion on the BC Coast.”
- First Nations at Fort Chipewayan: seven payments were also made through the Exchange Fund to build relationships with “indigenous solidarity" resistance and opposition along pipeline routes, including $35,000 for legal strategy and communications support “to constrain tar sands development" through West Coast Environmental Law.
- The Dogwood Initiative: received funds “to cultivate widespread public opposition to tar sands oil tankers and pipeline proposals in British Columbia." (Note that Dogwood wasn't paid to oppose all tankers, but only tar sands oil tankers used to export Canadian oil.)
- Greenpeace Canada: was paid $190,000 “for events that show opposition to pipelines and tar sands expansion" and “to expose the nefarious work of industry and government in order to expand the tar sands."
- The Living Oceans Society: was paid $30,000 “to build opposition to the KM [Kinder Morgan] pipeline" and to “renew opposition parties’ commitment to tanker ban."
Tides USA funds have been targeted upon Europe and America as well. Last year they paid $12,000 to the U.K. Tars Sands Network for a project titled “Stop Shell and Keep Tar Sands out of Europe."
In the U.S., Tides paid $1.5 million to 21 organizations. This included funds to organize landowners for the Nebraska Farmers Union and for “using creative action" in small towns and rural communities along the proposed Keystone XL pipeline route. The Sierra Club received $165,000 “for organizing and mobilizing opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline and other tar sands projects and for coordination with Canadian colleagues."
The New York-based Natural Resources Defense Council got $150,000 for policy analysis and advice and for “coordinating allies" in Canada and Europe, as well as to coordinate the Tar Sands Free Northeast Coalition. Forest Ethics was paid $155,000 “to persuade a minimum of either Coke or Pepsi to confirm publicly that they have committed to eliminate fuel that comes from tar sands refineries" — in other words, Canadian oil.
These well-funded attacks on the Canadian oil economy have motivated Prime Minister Stephen Harper to direct audits of several groups by his Canada Revenue Agency to determine if they are in violation of their tax-exempt status. Such charities are allowed to use only 10 percent of their resources for political activity.
Those included for scrutiny are: the David Suzuki Foundation; the Ecology Action Center; Environmental Defense; Equiterre; the Pembina Foundation; Tides Canada; and West Coast Environmental Law.
Toronto Sun columnist Ezra Levant takes heart that the Canadian government may have finally awakened to the fact that these organizations, along with other American foundations like Tides USA, “have poured millions into Indian activists, directing them against Canada’s interests, as well as their own.”
Canada is not alone on this. With President Obama’s approval of the Keystone XL pipeline once again delayed and uncertain, America’s interests are very much at stake as well.
Larry Bell is a professor and endowed professor at the University of Houston, where he directs the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture and heads the graduate program in space architecture. He is author of “Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax,” and his professional aerospace work has been featured on the History Channel and the Discovery Channel-Canada. Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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