Tar Sands for the week (May 13, 2014).

First off, my apologies for not posting for two weeks, travel and other commitments did not allow for the weekly blog. Here, once again, is a weekly tar sands stream of thoughts.



Well, it seems that two weeks off for travel has left wide open new tar sands stories. Such is the nature of this struggle. But that’s it, perhaps in another way. While the overall popular sentiment against tar sands in particular– along with fracking, mountain top removal and climate change itself– the demands have not grown much with the breadth of sentiment. This is, of course, not true of those who are resisting on a democratic, open and community level– fracking has been brought to attention by those who seek more than public relations. But as far as the struggle against tar sands as led by the structures of NGO’s we have repetition of failed demands. Nowhere is this clearer than in the case of Enbridge Gateway and big money organizing in BC.

Defend our Climate demands included “Stand Strong Christy”– a new brainchild of ForestEthics. This is in the hopes that the Premier who *has aready hoodwinked people on the question of climate change can continue to be the target of “soft sell” activism.


The Campbell administration set up the carbon tax precisely as the province geared up for major energy developments– including new coal mines, multiple energy projects involving river diversions, turning the forests into feedstock for giant powerplants in the UK and, as is now known Site C in the Peace River along with major fracking expansion near Fort St John and Fort Nelson that is rivalling Texas. These plans were known to the insiders; they were not highlighted and instead, pro-corporate elites cut bargains and even endorsed the Campbell government or alternately attacked the New Democrats as “not as good on climate” as the most neoliberal regime in the provinces history.


The ploy markets very well indeed, as the “Greenest Games ever” took place, with Tzeporah Berman herself as a torch bearing green energy bike rider– despite the major assaults on the environment that took place because of the Olympics, most notably at Eagleridge Bluffs. This was good pr, but it has had not only no appreciable effect on climate, it has allowed the population to believe that the neoliberal machinery is capable of addressing a problem for which it should rightly be named.


During the recent provincial election, Christy Clark lied to the public about Gateway, and even hid the very obvious connection that she was a partner in a lobbying firm for Enbridge. Nary a sound was made about this, but the tragic end of this “strategy” is farcical. Now the premier is being urged to “stand strong,” making appeals to the lie that Clark was ever in true opposition– or even seriously critical– of the proposal.


Meanwhile, the doubledown on the one big pipe has left the door open for Clark to continue to pursue the LNG dream she touts as the saviour of the economy. Focusing on sound bites and more, the current rallies that embrace Gregor Robertson– without criticism of any sort– are nepotism of the highest order. The mayor knows well the elite of the right wing capitalist NGO scene and has been the image without content mayor to go alongside the vapid “resistance” organizations.


Desperate to maintain their privileged place within this society, the illness is seen as peripheral rather than a sepsis like virus called “growth.” Meanwhile, inside the other pipeline struggle that obliterates national attention to the structural problems of fossil fuels and/or rapidly escalating climate change? Well, it seems we are supposed to be happy by what transpired over the US energy bill, the rider on KXL and the resulting squashing of the entire bill.


KXL is not a major issue in the US anymore; the smashing up of an energy bill there has little impact on climate. Climate is why this struggle began, and community led struggles against the pipeline continue whether or not KXL figures into climate mitigation or whatever else. Nonetheless, the railcars and the other, not so well known pipelines are moving forward, tar sands mock oil flows to the US Gulf Coast already, even in portions of the KXL itself, and other issues stay on the backburner.


In the past three weeks, we have seen a Canadian corporation come out of the woodwork as the primary proponent to start full tar sands strip mining in Trinidad and Tobago. Projects for similar destruction have marched forward in other ways as well, including in Utah. The “Canadian model” has continued to ramp up both producton at home and propaganda elsewhere. The moves towards war in both Venezuela and Eastern Europe, so far as the financiers in the west are concerned, also promise both higher oil prices and better control of markets– gas and oil– if not direct control of South American or Eurasian deposits themselves.


Sanctions against either Russia or Venezuela should be seen as proponents of tar sands oil– it is both the inevitable result if such supply is limited and yet imperialism needs alternate, equal amounts, and clearly was thought of in setting in motion confrontations on an international scale with giant energy producers.


This matters. The system provides the logic for both “need” towards energy, meaning tar sands are “a needed evil” and provides the rationale for an overt or covert war against a larger supplier of energy to satisfy the bright lights of Times Square or Shinjuku.


The over-all need to de-escalate growth is only twinned by the need to escalate resistance– not to bad pipelines from a “good” corporation, or “bad oil” over “good oil.” The interconnected nature of climate struggle and resistance to capital is not related. It is one and the same.