Tar Sands for the week (December 3, 2013).

When Stratfor and the very weak “power point” presentation was summed up over at “Inside Climate News” the mere existence of it was seen as illustrative of over-all success in tar sands campaigning. In so far as it points to tar sands organizers as a threat from the point of view of companies like Suncor, who apparently shelled out 10 grand for it to be produced, it shows effectiveness. But how is this news?

There is a ra-ra element, of course, to much of what gets publicized on matters of the environment and the tar sands are no different in this area. The more significant elements are understated. The playbook of Suncor is to isolate “radicals” and “idealists” from “realists.” The point is to put forward ideals for the realists to latch onto, and then to strike a backroom deal.


The idea that such a move will never be made by eNGO’s has history to contend with. Every major campaigning plank for decades that saw even a sprinkle of the foundation funding being centralized around tar sands and climate in North America was eventually traded for “deliverables” in the form of a deal. In this case, the deal being proposed by Stratfor is now out there, a “code of conduct” for tar sands companies, likely in exchange for cessation of campaigns. Those who surrender their campaigns to give the green brand to the deal will get lucrative contracts implementing and “working out the details” of chair position on the deck.


The offensive in BC to integrate fracked gas into a new energy grid that would make BC something of a fracking gas Alberta, as well as a much expanded transit point for all things to Asia, is taking full advantage of the tar sands focus. Hemming Big Green in on a campaign that can not be ended politically (tar sands) and can not be overtly expanded to an over-all opposition to growth because it is funded by large capital has left the BC Liberal agenda around fracked gas, highways, ports, mines and dams able to accelerate. While David Suzuki has now spoken out in opposition to fracking expansion in British Columbia, little is being said about the rolling out of these plans in a shell game manner.


Big Green is now bound to the Gateway Campaign no less than American Big Green is to Keystone XL. The BC and Federal governments can talk about Gateway while fundamentally altering the energy grid permanently, and with far less opposition.


It’s not the development of the gas, but the development of BC as an Alberta clone, with an industry that is almost as destructive and changes the nature of what can direct the economy in BC. If the Horn River Basin were to go full bore as heavy as possible, the share of the economy can distort a province just as surely as hydrocarbons can distort nation-states like Iraq or Nigeria.


Of course no one should expect Gateway to be dropped– the real need is to synthesize resistance to all fossil fuel developments, and to take community leads that are already doing so. The focus on Gateway and on public relations in the media around tar sands as a boogey issue is dangerous. It is a trap and it is a so far, successfully laid one.


The Stratfor piece identifies the means by which corporations work to divide, but reality has already done this. The question is: Has the backroom deal already taken place, in a manner of speaking? Is a potential, long and lucrative campaign around the tar sands being constructed with a nod to allowing fracked gas to become the “new” BC? Has mostly silence already acted as a willing partner from Big Green in the deal?


When Big Green was lavishing praise on Christy Clark for putting “conditions” on Gateway, was that a smaller act of betrayal than what was not said of the Liberal agenda then or before?