COLUMN: Is gas the enviro-villain of 2013?

There are signs the American-directed environmental attack is swinging to our gas boom.

They’re well on the way to stopping the expansion of oil exports to Asia. Now will B.C.’s American branch-plant environmental machine turn on natural gas?

A couple of weeks ago I described the dispute between the Haisla Nation and the rest of the Coastal First Nations group over the pioneering of liquefied natural gas development on Haisla territory at Kitimat. Powerful chiefs of the Heiltsuk, Gitga’at, Haida and others in the so-called Great Bear Rainforest oppose the idea of kicking off a new LNG export industry without extending the hydro grid to support renewable power for the region.

LNG is shaping up as B.C.’s largest-ever industrial project, if it gets built. And there are signs the American-directed environmental attack is swinging to our gas boom.

Some in the Canadian media insist no such U.S. influence exists, or that it is trivial and benign. They mock federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver’s description of “foreign radicals,” pretending this applies to everyone opposed to oil pipelines.

There weren’t many reporters with me when I covered the negotiations for the Great Bear Rainforest in 2006. To the Vancouver media it was just a big forest deal up in the middle of nowhere. Along with B.C. cabinet minister Pat Bell, Coastal First Nations and forest companies, the Sierra Club, ForestEthics and Greenpeace muscled their way to the table.

How they did so became clear in early 2007. Behind these big three eco-propaganda groups was a $60 million war chest from an obscure outfit called Tides Canada.

Another front group, as it turns out. The actual source of the money was the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, the Wilberforce Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

Most made their billions in computers and software in San Francisco or Seattle. They’ve funded scientifically suspect campaigns such as “Yellowstone to Yukon” and “boreal forest” aimed at turning more than a third of Canada into parks. Increasingly, they are partnering with aboriginal people in B.C. and across Canada.

Some in B.C.’s major media have since grudgingly credited independent B.C. researcher Vivian Krause with filling in the blanks. She has shown that starting in 2002, these foundations began formally organizing against Canadian fossil fuel production.

When the B.C. and Canadian governments matched the $60 million Great Bear Rainforest fund for “ecosystem-based” forest management, they didn’t realize they were reinforcing a blockade against oil exports. Tides and its backers have continued to fund and create new protest groups, which are quoted as they pop up by credulous B.C. media.

Their argument against oil exports centres on the sexy but false premise that Alberta’s “tar sands” somehow uniquely threaten the global climate. Lately, as the size of B.C.’s gas development has become clearer, the protests have started to refocus.

Now we hear dire claims about the decades-old technique of “fracking” in gas development, and previously obscure groups are springing up to protest gas projects.

Hollywood is about to gas us with an anti-fracking movie starring Matt Damon. Previews suggest that Promised Land works the usual evil-greedy-capitalist themes, in the Avatar tradition.

ForestEthics, Sierra Club and Greenpeace, meanwhile, are campaigning against their original forest preservation deal on B.C.’s Central and North Coast. Sustainable development solutions aren’t good for their business model. If people think a problem is solved, they stop sending money.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is surging ahead with its own shale oil and gas boom. Plans are underway for LNG exports from the U.S. to Asia.

I think 2013 would be a good year for Canada to start making its own decisions on energy development.

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

tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

All Safe Surrey Coalition council members must ‘step up’ over ‘bad taste’ tweets, rivals say

Slate’s posts on social media in ‘bad taste,’ councillor says

After 40 years on the job, White Rock’s fire chief retires

From flood to fire, Phil Lemire has been at the forefront whenever disaster struck

Surrey sports groups grapple with refunds, registration, restrictions and more

‘Our biggest problem is going to be retraining the public because they can’t be there’

Low-cost bicycle repair shop opens in Cloverdale

Cloverdale Community Cycles starts up in church parking lot

First degree murder charge laid in South Surrey shooting death

Wayne Duncan, 46, was killed on Sept. 6, 2019

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

We’re asking you to lock arms with us, as we look to better days ahead

NDP getting COVID-19 wage subsidy ‘indirectly,’ B.C. Liberal leader says

B.C. NDP says Andrew Wilkinson is wrong about federal link

Parent, superintendent, trustee report smooth return to classrooms in B.C.

The biggest challenge is convincing families that it’s safe, some say

Two more COVID-19 cases reported by Langley long term care facility

One resident, one staffer have tested positive for the coronavirus

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

Suspect sought in alleged assault, hate crime on Metro Vancouver bus: transit police

The woman then allegedly punched the teenager in the head multiple times

COVID-19: B.C. commercial landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

Most Read