A ferment in the environmental movement, brewing for many years, has now bubbled up into the blogosphere. We are dipping our ladle in here to take a little taste of it, even though we are quite certain it is not done fermenting. Bill McKibben has been stirring the wort of whether social activism can save us for many years. In Eaarth: Making Life on a Tough New Planet, as in The End of Nature a quarter century earlier, he poignantly waffled, in elegant prose, between hope and despair.
Every day, the news about climate change and the harms that are sure to accompany it gets worse and worse. To many environmentalists, the answer is simple: power shift. That is, shift from fossil fuels to clean, green, renewable, alternative energy. Well-meaning concerned citizens and activists have jumped on the bandwagon.
As environmentalists began ratcheting up pressure against Canada's tar sands three years ago, one of the world's biggest strategic consulting firms was tapped to help the North American oil industry figure out how to handle the mounting activism. The resulting document, published online by WikiLeaks, offers another window into how oil and gas companies have been scrambling to deal with unrelenting opposition to their growth plans.
In the Austin, Texas-based office of global intelligence firm Stratfor, the "Shadow CIA", a curious string of names from BC were being mentioned as part of an oil sands presentation. West Coast Environmental Law. Dogwood Initiative. Environmental Defence. They were among 24 groups identified by Stratfor as leaders in the anti-tar sands push. The presentation was prepared by Stratfor in 2010, when North America's oil industry was mulling over how to deal with the growing anti-tar sands movement.
Politicians, environmentalists and First Nations alike are infuriated that the federal government worked hand-in-hand with the oil industry to spy on groups that opposed pipeline projects. Documents obtained by the Vancouver Observer under the Access to Information Privacy Act revealed that the National Energy Board, an independent regulatory agency, coordinated with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the police, and oil companies.
Dawn Paley’s article ignores key aspects of the Great Bear Rainforest agreement to fit her theory about a trend to “secretive deals” between green groups and industry, marginalizing First Nations [“ Are green groups ready for tarsands deal?”, November 21-28]]. Paley’s key evidence that supposedly proves that our organizations are responsible for outcomes negotiated without First Nations involvement is, ironically, the same agreement signed between Great Bear Rainforest First Nations and the provincial government.
The federal government has been vigorously spying on anti-oil sands activists and organizations in BC and across Canada since last December, documents obtained under the Access to Information Act show. Not only is the federal government subsidizing the energy industry in underwriting their costs, but deploying public safety resources as a de-facto 'insurance policy' to ensure that federal strategies on proposed pipeline projects are achieved, these documents indicate.
It’s not just the NSA that has been caught spying on Americans. Some of our nation’s largest corporations have been conducting espionage as well, against civic groups. For these big companies with pliable ethics, if they don’t win political conflicts with campaign donations or lobbying power, then they play dirty. Very dirty. That’s the lesson of a new report on corporate espionage against nonprofit organizations, by my colleagues at Essential Information. The title of the report is Spooky Business, and it is apt.
As a child my favorite chore was hand-pumping water from the thirty-foot well on our family homestead. The pump was shiny black and the water ice-cold. Then my father was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer linked to chemicals used in oil and gas production. It's been nine years since I drank that water. I am from an impacted community in East Texas, home to oil and gas industry, on the southern route of the Keystone XL (KXL) tar sands pipeline. My involvement in the climate movement is motivated by the reality my community faces.
Gone are the days when the tarsands were an obscure experiment in making oil from tar. Today, the bitumen deposits in central and northern Alberta have become a political hot potato, an issue forced onto the world stage by coordinated protests and direct actions. But a look at the history of the environmental groups that have signed on to the tarsands protests raises the question of whether or not an agreement between green groups and tarsands operators is on the horizon.