Anti-oil campaigns have called Alberta’s industry “the tar sands,” “Alberta’s dirty oil” and “Canada’s most embarrassing secret.”
But during an interview with Global Edmonton anchor Jennifer Crosby on Monday, a British Columbia researcher said the campaign against Alberta oil is more about American economic interests than protecting the environment.
Vivian Krause has been researching the oilsands for nearly a decade and she told her studies have led her to believe the push against the oilsands is funded by American philanthropists in an effort to land-lock Alberta oil so it cannot reach overseas markets, where it would attain a higher price per barrel.
“About $90 million over the last 10 years has gone towards various efforts to restrict oil and gas development and export from Alberta. The problem that I see with this is that they’re trying to cap and restrict Alberta production, but there’s no such campaign in Texas,” Krause said.
“I’m sure the reason they are doing it is because of the environment and because of climate-related problems, but the trouble is it’s not helping the environment because the oil, if it doesn’t come from Alberta, it’s just coming from some other country.”
WATCH BELOW: Opponents of Alberta’s oil often use protecting the environment as a key argument but Vivian Krause believes it’s actually about American economic interests.
Krause said the campaign was originally funded by charitable organizations from California and the philanthropic organization Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which was created with funding from the famous Rockefeller family.
Krause said the group got together around the time of the Iraq war and California energy crisis in 2003-2004 and strategized how to get control of the United States’ domestic energy policy. She said the group now funds the Tides Foundation in San Francisco and the New Venture Fund in Washington, D.C.
“I think they have four goals, three of which are great: renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy security, that’s all good. But it’s the fourth goal — this idea of keeping Canada out of the global market — that’s where I think we need to bring an end to this campaign.
“Because unless we do, I don’t see much hope for any pipeline,” Krause said.
LISTEN BELOW: Vivian Krause talks about the cause of oil price discounts
The Corporate Ethics Tar Sands Campaign website indicates its goal is to land-lock Alberta oil by blocking proposed pipelines, so the crude does not reach the international market where it can garner a high price per barrel. Krause said the acknowledgement on the website has been a game-changer for her, arguing the environmental lobby should applaud Alberta Premier Rachel Notley creation of strong environmental regulations for the oil industry.
“She’s done everything that the activists asked for and yet the campaign goes on, the money keeps coming in, and we can see that in the tax returns that the payments to land-lock Alberta crude continue to be made.”
Greenpeace Canada climate organizer Mike Hudema said the organization’s environmental activism is based on science, and said Krause’s research is based on “unsubstantiated conspiracy theories.”
“If Vivian wants to talk about, foreign influence, she should look into the massive amount of foreign dollars and foreign ownership of the oilsands that are poured into and influence our government at both the provincial and federal level all the time, but she never asks those questions,” Hudema said.
Hudema said Greenpeace is almost entirely funded by individuals who donate between $10-$20 and is not directed by corporate interests.
“We’re directed by what is the greatest environmental threat, and where do we think we can make the biggest difference?” he said.
Krause has shared some of her findings with the Alberta government.
“We’ve got to ask themselves, ‘Why Alberta has been singled out, even though it’s the only jurisdiction in the world with a cap on emissions from oilsands, the only place with a carbon tax as it is, and even though the province has created a very large boreal forest reserve? Why is there is there still a campaign against Alberta?” Krause said.
“If it was only about the environment, I think it would be over by now.”
Alberta Economic Development Minister Deron Bilous said he can’t speak to American money supporting anti-Alberta oil campaigns, but he said the NDP government has worked hard to promote the province’s oil industry in the U.S.
“This is exactly why myself, the premier and a number of my cabinet colleagues have been regularly traveling down to the U.S., to ensure that we’re engaging with not only policy makers and decision makers but also with media,” Bilous said.
On Wednesday, the Alberta government unveiled a “real-time lost-revenue counter” to make it clear how much Canada is losing due to pipeline delays.
The NDP said pipeline delays, including the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, are costing Canadians more than $80 million per day by keeping resources landlocked.
The province estimates more than $6 billion in revenue has been lost across Canada since the Federal Court of Appeal ruled against the Trans Mountain pipeline project on Aug. 30.
In regards to the issue of price discount or “differential” on Alberta oil, estimates on the cost to the economy vary wildly, but the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers officially estimates the impact as at least C$13 billion in the first 10 months of 2018.
CAPP estimates the cost at about C$50 million per day in October as discounts for Western Canadian Select bitumen-blend crude oil versus New York-traded West Texas Intermediate peaked at more than US$52 per barrel.
“The differential is absolutely killing us,” Bilous said. “They don’t have to even upgrade or refine any of our heavy crude. They can just take it, put it through a pipeline, put it on a tanker and ship it, and they make this in profit. It’s ridiculous quite frankly.
“This is why our government is ensuring the federal government wakes up and recognizes what’s at stake.”
Krause said the anti-Alberta oil campaign bullies Alberta and Canada, and does nothing to reduce global oil use.
Krause spoke about her research in Edmonton on Monday and will be speaking in Fort McMurray on Thursday.
— With files from The Canadian Press
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