Alberta Investigating Sources of Funding for Tar Sands Enemies


Opposition to Canadian oil and gas pipelines has grown into an international industry of environmental protest from a humble start in 2008 as the “Oil Sands Campaign,” according to an Alberta government investigation into foreign funding from enemies of the United States. local fossil fuels.

The 657-page report of the public inquiry into the anti-Alberta energy campaigns found that C $ 1.28 billion ($ 1 billion) in documented cross-border support for the resistance movement is “probably underestimated” given flexible disclosure rules.

Investigating Commissioner J. Stephens Allan wrote that the two-year C $ 3.5 million ($ 2.8 million) investigation did not detect any illegal activity. However, he pointed out that campaigning nonprofits and charities face far fewer regulations than oil and gas pipeline companies.

“The movement and the organizations that are part of it seem to operate as an industry in itself, attracting a variety of sources of funding and employing significant staff and capital to promote their goals,” said Allan.

“A lot of them have gone from cause to cause, from salmon farming to forestry, water, oil and gas, agriculture. There is no doubt that these are all important issues for mankind, but these organizations are supporting and developing themselves and their leadership through brilliant marketing campaigns. “

Suspicious cross-border cash

The report and additional analysis from Deloitte Forensic Inc. traced connections between 16 U.S. foundations and 31 Canadian organizations, using 2000-2018 tax returns to map money trails. The survey found that foreign aid to Canadian groups over the 19-year period ranged from CAN $ 76,979 to $ 429 million ($ 61,583 to $ 343 million).

The use of cross-border money earmarked for Canadian environmental activities remains a mystery.

“I was ultimately unable to accurately track the amount of foreign funding applied to anti-Alberta energy campaigns,” said Allan. “This is in large part due to the fungible nature of money – once funds are deployed in an organization in one way or another, they are deployed to advance the mission and campaigns of the organization, which are often varied and complex, and cannot be easily traced. to a particular activity or initiative.

Allan attributed the ability of the enemies of the tar sands and Canadian pipelines to delay projects to an “efficient network” that demonstrated “the commitment to collaboration and alignment.” He also said that the industry has been the architect of its own misfortune by lacking the unity of its enemies.

“Industry associations, think tanks and governments, although they may have had similar goals and objectives, were not aligned; didn’t collaborate and instead worked in silos, ”said Allan. “They were naturally focused on promoting the goals and objectives of their own organizations, but from a governance perspective, they failed to recognize an existential threat to the industry in which they operated.”

The main recommendation of the Alberta survey is to make better information available on environmental organizations, nonprofit groups and charitable foundations by tightening financial accountability requirements.

Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage agreed.

“While the industry is highly regulated, closely watched, and must be open and transparent about its financial reporting, many of the same requirements do not exist for nonprofits or charities,” Savage said.

“We must take the findings of the report, learn from the tactics employed and ensure that foreign funding does not target the development of emerging energy resources. These resources include the capture, use and storage of hydrogen and carbon, as well as rare and critical earth minerals, small modular reactors and liquefied natural gas, “which are needed to reduce emissions and diversify. the economy of Alberta ”.

Of the environmental groups that featured in Allan’s report, Ecojustice and the Pembina Institute called the investigation a waste and the estimated total foreign funding for industry opponents as a “rounding error” compared to oil and pipeline investments. The campaign to tame climate change by limiting fossil fuels will continue, the groups said.

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