By Ron Arnold — Americans concerned about gasoline prices were encouraged by the Pew Research Center’s new poll, whose headline blared, “Keystone XL Pipeline draws broad support.” A score box showed 63 percent supporting and only 23 percent opposing the pipeline that would transport oil from Canada’s vast Alberta oil sands deposits through the Plains states to Texas refineries.
“Every one-cent increase at the pump steals about $1 billion from the larger economy that consumers would have otherwise saved or spent on something else,” the Wall Street Journal has pointed out. High gasoline prices thus translate into lost jobs, lost tax revenues and lower living standards. Americans are beginning to understand that, as the Obama “recovery” gives them real-world economic lessons.
Unfortunately, the Pew report quickly deflated optimism over this support, when it tersely identified who the minority is: “liberals” — stanchions of Big Green’s circus tent. We have seen time and again that the liberal 23 percent can be a “majority” to President Obama, who wields executive orders to bypass the people.
As his administration approaches a decision, lame-duck politics says he could go either way — even with his own State Department’s second favorable environmental impact report on the KXL’s construction permit. Even with Alberta Premier Alison Redford saying that an Obama rejection would damage U.S.-Canada relations. “Canada relies on the U.S. for 97 percent of its energy exports,” Redford said, and “sees the new pipeline as critical to its economic well-being.” And even with ten governors and 22 lieutenant governors sending letters to the President, urging pipeline approval.
What is Obama likely to do? Some 82 percent of Republicans favor the pipeline, so revenge is not an unthinkable motive for a possible rejection. However, 70 percent of independents and 54 percent of Democrats also favor the KXL. Fogging the crystal ball is the ideological split among Democrats: 60 percent of the party’s conservatives and moderates support building the pipeline, compared to just 42 percent of liberal Democrats. That considerably flattens Obama’s upward slope toward a potential rejection, but doesn’t level it.
Obama’s decision may hinge on pleasing his base of global-warming advocates. This whole Keystone XL controversy was carefully conceived and organized as a “globally significant response” to global warming. Shutting down Alberta’s oil sands — by blocking both the US-bound Keystone XL pipeline and any other Alberta oil conduit, particularly a proposed link to Vancouver, British Columbia harbors and oil tankers bound for Asia — would supposedly reduce global warming. That’s propaganda, not reality.
As Environment Canada has observed, oil sands production contributes a mere 0.14 percent of global greenhouse gases, notes, and would add an undetectable 0.00001 degrees C per year to global warming, even if carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases really do drive climate change.
The anti-oil sands campaign — activists call them “tar sands” to evoke ugly images — was devised by the New York City-based Rockefeller Brothers Fund, using earmarked grants to recruit “a network of leading US and Canadian NGOs” and establish a “coordinated campaign structure” to act as its public face, according to a leaked PowerPoint presentation.
The first slide says, “The Tar Sands Campaign, Michael Northrop, Program Officer, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, July 2008.” Seven slides drive home the message that Rockefeller wants its paid campaigners to emphasize: Oil sands and Keystone represent “a globally significant threat” — with “Global Warming,” and “Oil Addiction” as the two “thought leader slogans” in the parade of old shibboleths that trigger brain freeze in Big Green followers. The rest was a coldly calculated, very practical plan to destroy Canada’s single most important export, with Rockefeller giving $7 million per year to activist groups to do the job.
Thinking people understand that being “addicted to oil” is like being addicted to breathing, better living standards, improved health and life itself. Just try getting along without it in a world where fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal) contributed 82 percent of US energy use in 2012. The “green alternative” (wind and solar) provided a mere 3.3 percent of our overall needs in 2012; the rest was nuclear, hydroelectric and biomass (mostly wood). Relying on the “green alternative” is like trying to inhale only 3.3 percent as much as you usually do. There’s an energy gap there we need to account for.
Canadian researcher Vivian Krause exposed the Rockefeller funding for campaigns against Canadian energy exports in her October 2010 Financial Post story, “US foundations against the oil sands.” Five US foundations, including the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, funneled vast sums of money through the Tides Foundation’s Canadian organization, Tides Canada. The Tides family of operations is a notorious California-based funder of left-wing activists.
Krause wrote, “A large part of Tides Canada’s funding comes from the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation, the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. These are The Big Five. They give away about US$1.2-billion every year.” In a chilling reminder, she concluded, “If these foundations decide to undermine a foreign industry, they probably can.”
Later that fall, Krause testified before a Canadian House of Commons committee, prompting an audit of the Canadian arm of the Tides Foundation by the Canada Revenue Agency (Canada’s equivalent to the IRS). By Krause’s calculations, Tides, a co-funder of the Rockefeller oil sands campaign, has distributed $19 million to anti-Keystone groups since 2008.
Krause explains that the campaign strategy is intended to foster renewable energy by shifting investment capital away from so-called “dirty oil” and toward so-called “clean energy.” To this end, she said, “they ‘educate’ media, consumers and voters. They stigmatize fossil fuels as bad, thereby facilitating the positioning of renewables as good. It’s basic product positioning and ‘depositioning’ the competitor.”
Not surprisingly, the “education” is slanted. “We get only bad news about fossil fuels and good news about solar and wind,” Krause observes. “We don’t get the whole story.” What gets left out are the advantages of fossil fuels — and the limitations and harmful effects of renewables, like the tiny amount of energy they provide, and the terrible impacts they have on birds, bats and wildlife habitats. “Furthermore, some of the information that is perpetuated is out-dated, and some is plainly false.”
I asked Krause why the Rockefeller presence behind the anti-XL propaganda campaign was virtually invisible. She told me that it has been done quietly but not secretly. “The grants have been disclosed in online databases for years,” she said. “But nobody bothered to add them up and connect the dots.” Krause connected the dots to the networks of foundations that work together on targeted projects.
She directed me to a revealing but obscure source, “Design to Win: Philanthropy’s Role in the Fight Against Global Warming,” which was sponsored by six of “the usual suspects” I have learned to expect to find behind any global warming campaign: the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Energy Foundation, Joyce Foundation, Oak Foundation, and William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
Another source was, “A Strategy Planning Tool for Western Conservation,” prepared for the Hewlett Foundation by the Redstone Strategy Group, a brain pool of Ivy League hotshots not to be trifled with. Their strategy is to create eight massive national parks, each the size of Switzerland, as a way to stop the development of fossil fuels. Just fence industry out with parks — or Antiquities Act designations.
Anyone who thinks their local grassroots green group just pops up spontaneously in occasional protests needs to read either of these documents. They will find that the “roots” under the environmentalist “grass” are fertilized with bales of hundred-dollar bills. Rockefeller’s actions are quite open, if quiet. Krause said, “The strategy is articulated in discussion papers, but who reads them?”
Nobody except Vivian Krause, evidently. Her Twitter account, @FairQuestions, says, “I follow the money & the science behind enviro campaigns.” Her research and writing are impressive. Her blog profile states, “I work from my dining room table, using Google, on my own nickel. Not part of any political party, any industry, or any campaign.” Her work deserves more attention in the United States.
Krause’s discovery and exposé of the Rockefeller millions behind the anti-Keystone XL campaign could become a factor in Obama’s pipeline construction decision. It has already created Canadian suspicion of environmental groups dancing on the strings of US foundation money.
It’s not the money itself Canadians fear. It’s the way bales of US foundation cash can buy pressure by proxy, to impose undue foreign influence over Canada’s national energy policy and sovereignty.
One must hope Mr. Obama does not wish to be suspected of dancing on the same Rockefeller policy puppet strings as the Big Green bigwigs who were recently arrested protesting at his front door.
Columnist Ron Arnold is executive vice president of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise. Portions of this report appeared originally in the Washington Examiner and are used by permission.