Opinion

Ethical Oil My Gas!

Enbridge pipeline cheerleaders full of hypocrisy in criticizing 'foreign intervention.'

By Bill Tieleman 17 Jan 2012 | TheTyee.ca

Read more Tieleman at TheTyee.ca and billtieleman.blogspot.com. Email: weststar@telus.net.

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Ethical Oil spokesperson Kathryn Marshall: Harper ties.

"Oil they would buy from anyone. From Satan." -- Christopher Buckley, Florence of Arabia, 2004.

"Ethical oil" my gas!

The number of hypocrites promoting the $5.5 billion Enbridge pipeline through northern B.C. that would ship "ethical oil" to China by tankers is astonishing.

First, pumping Alberta tar sands or oil sands oil -- who cares what term we use other than the industry -- by a pipeline through pristine B.C. wilderness to the port of Kitimat is damaging enough.

Enbridge's pipeline spill record is scary -- 170 spills and leaks in the United States since 2002 by Enbridge-owned companies.

Enbridge says it's got a better than industry average but Transportation Safety Board says Enbridge and TransCanada were involved in three out of four of reported cases in last two years.

South of the border, don't bother jumping in or fishing on the Kalamazoo River in Michigan -- Enbridge spilled more than one million gallons of diluted bitumen there in July 2010, and the clean up continues.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says there is "a ban on surface water activities on the Kalamazoo River as part of the county's state of emergency, including swimming, wading, fishing, boating, canoeing and kayaking... No one should eat fish of any kind from this stretch of the river."

Then Enbridge would ship oil by giant tankers through dangerous B.C. coastal waters, one of the world's most fragile ecosystems -- and it says everything is totally safe. Just watch this video!

Right. Exxon Valdez going aground in 1989, British Petroleum oil rig explosion in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana -- what could go wrong?

China, our ethical customer?

At a time when a huge cruise ship with 4,200 passengers in the calm Mediterranean can run aground and sink with potentially disastrous environmental results, the industry claims oil tankers are safe?

And where is the "ethical oil" going to go? Mostly to prop up the repressive Communist military dictatorship in China.

"Ethical oil" will keep the machinery oiled for a government that throws world-renowned artists like Ai Weiwei and Nobel Prize-winning human right activist Liu Xiaobo in jail for daring to want every citizen to get a democratic vote and a choice of parties beyond Communist.

So while the Arab Spring overthrows brutal oil dictators like Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia -- we grease the skids for more Chinese repression.

And let's not even discuss how “ethical oil” will help China continue to build a new coal-fired power plants and soon burn half the world's coal, ensuring its world number one greenhouse gas emitter status.

The Tory public relations strategy

How to get the Enbridge pipeline approved when First Nations, environmentalists and concerned British Columbians don't want it?

Use federal Conservative cheerleaders to create an astroturf group called Ethical Oil and blur the issue by claiming Canadian oil is produced honourably while everyone else is bad.

Ethical Oil spokeswoman Kathryn Marshall (who writes for 24 hours on unrelated political issues) admits the organization takes money from Canadian companies.

But she won't reveal if oil firms donate to the group, citing group policy not to identify any donors.

And Marshall strongly denies it's an astroturf group created to push the industry position. She argues it has "a few hundred members" and over 1,600 Facebook page "likes."

Then blame environmental groups for taking millions from U.S. foundations while ignoring the foreign-owned oil companies spending billions in to produce oil sands gunk.

"Stop foreign billionaires from sabotaging Canada's national interest!" shouts Ethical Oil's website Our Decision.

Get pro-Enbridge politicians from Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Energy Minister Joe Oliver to BC Liberal Premier Christy Clark to all publicly denounce "foreign meddling in our decisions" -- as Clark put it on Sunday -- while welcoming multinational oil companies' participation in hearings.

Pipeline backer now aide to BC premier

Next have Clark pick ex-Enbridge lobbyist and former top Harper advisor Ken Boessenkool as her new chief of staff.

But heck, there's no way he'd influence the province's position on the pipeline -- Christy says so!

Boessenkool, Clark says, is "leaving his private sector connections in the past in coming to perform public service here in British Columbia."

"The fact is, advisers advise, premiers decide," Clark also claimed.

Of course, if the "ethical oil" crew and their Conservative government fan club really cared about foreign intervention that is morally and deeply wrong, they would have been the first to demand Canadian company SNC Lavalin stop building prisons for Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi to torture his own people.

But that would mean criticizing SNC Lavalin's $300,000 a year chair Gwyn Morgan, the hard right-winger who is a Christy Clark advisor, was CEO of natural gas giant Encana and who calls Levant his "favourite iconoclast."

Pumped up indignation

Or the ethical oil can gang might have joined forces with those opposed to the massive takeovers of our country's biggest companies by U.S., Chinese, Brazilian and other foreign corporations -- allying themselves with the nationalist Council of Canadians.

But they didn't. They only use the foreign intervention card to help their non-Canadian petrochemical pals push the Enbridge pipeline past those nasty environmentalists.

It's a cynical strategy made worse by their pumped up indignation.

And while Enbridge would admittedly create lots of construction work building the pipeline, once competed how many permanent jobs does B.C. get from all this risk?

About 104 direct jobs shared with Alberta. Until the first spill, that is.

The Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline is a high risk, high reward project -- but the risks are all for British Columbia and the biggest rewards flow to big oil.  [Tyee]

Read more: Energy, Politics, Environment

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