B.C. a playground for eco-stunts

If the propaganda flowing over “tar sands” crude shipments across B.C. were oil, the province would be out of deficit by now.

Oil tanker loads at Kinder Morgan terminal in Burnaby.

VICTORIA – If the propaganda flowing over “tar sands” crude shipments across B.C. were oil, the province would be out of deficit by now.

U.S.-funded professional environmentalists and their aboriginal partners lined up with the NDP last week to peddle a range of half-truths and falsehoods about proposals to pipe diluted bitumen from Alberta to a new port at Kitimat, where tankers would deliver it to Asian markets.

They staged a slick news conference in Vancouver where they claimed to have a seamless wall of aboriginal communities the length of B.C. opposing the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. A 10-year-old girl in a cedar bark hat warned of devastation to the coastal ecology, providing the kind of emotional visual that appeals to urban television audiences who know and care little about science or resource industries.

This event was co-ordinated with the publication of a report warning of huge risks from piping “tar sands” crude. The report was produced by the Natural Resource Defence Council, the Living Oceans Society and the Pembina Institute.

These three obscure organizations are among those identified by independent researcher Vivian Krause on her website. These and other environmental groups have received millions from U.S.-based foundations in recent years.

Here’s one of many examples of the money trail that Krause has followed. U.S. tax returns show the Pembina Institute and a B.C. environmental group were paid $200,000 by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund Inc. in 2006-07 “to prevent the development of a pipeline and tanker port” on the B.C. coast.

The same Rockefeller fund has investments in competing pipelines going south.

Documenting this huge money spill, Krause concludes that U.S. interests are working to stop Canada from exporting oil to Asia so the U.S. will be the only market available. They dress it up as environmentalism; we fall for it.

Not surprisingly, the latest “tar sands” scare report was seized on by the B.C. NDP.

“The pipeline goes over mountains, across farmland, over the Fraser and Skeena Rivers and straight through the Great Bear Rainforest to the Pacific, where it will be picked up by supertankers trying to navigate our inland coastal waters,” said NDP environment critic Rob Fleming.

Fleming parroted the report’s claim that diluted bitumen is more likely to cause corrosion in pipes and tankers.

Enbridge issued a statement refuting the study. Its oldest bitumen pipeline went into service in 1979, and “a complete metal loss inspection of this line in 2009 revealed no increased risk or incidence of internal corrosion.”

Oh, and the proposed pipeline route doesn’t cross the Fraser River. And claims of a huge increase in greenhouse gases from “tar sands” compared to conventional oil are grossly exaggerated. (The vast majority of emissions from all crude sources come when the refined fuel is burned to truck in your groceries or get you to work.)

B.C.’s own Wilderness Committee chimed in, but this eco-show was organized by the local branch office of San Francisco-based ForestEthics. Those are the folks who blessed us with the faux-aboriginal name “Great Bear Rainforest.”

A similar campaign is underway against expansion of the existing Kinder Morgan pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby, which brings Alberta oilsands crude to ships heading out under the Lions Gate bridge and winding through the Gulf and San Juan Islands to Asia.

Tankers have been loading “tar sands” oil in Burnaby for about six years now, but the enviro-propagandists didn’t notice until a couple of years ago. Up until then, Fleming and his colleagues raged about maintaining a “moratorium” on B.C. tanker traffic that never existed.

Tom Fletcher is legislative reporter and columnist for Black Press and BCLocalnews.com