The Tar Sands Campaign Against the Overseas Export of Canadian Oil: Activism or Economic Sabotage? – by Vivian Krause (January 12, 2018)


On the basis of the evidence presented in this report, it is clear that The Northern Gateway pipeline and other proposed pipelines for the overseas export of oil from western Canada have been deliberately sabotaged as part of a multi-million dollar, U.S.-funded effort referred to as “The Tar Sands Campaign.”

This effort aims to stop the export of oil from western Canada by pipeline, tanker and by rail. The absence of a successful response to anti-pipeline activism and other factors have also contributed to pipeline project cancellations.

When the American funding behind The Tar Sands Campaign first came to light in 2010, the strategy of the U.S. funders was not entirely clear. But now it is. In the words of the original director of The Tar Sands Campaign, from the very beginning the strategy was to “land-lock” oil from western Canada within North America so that it could not reach overseas markets where it could attain a higher price per barrel.1

Launched in 2008 by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Tides Foundation (“Tides”), The Tar Sands Campaign aims to embarrass Canada, weaken the Alberta government and “reduce the attractiveness of the Alberta oil industry for the companies themselves, investors and financiers,” the campaign’s original strategy paper says.2

To fund The Tar Sands Campaign, Tides alone has made at least 400 payments totaling $36 million (2009 – 2016) to more than 100 organizations in Canada, the U.S. and in Europe. The Tar Sands Campaign aims to significantly reduce investor confidence in the Canadian oil industry and sway investment capital away from Canada by engineering “a steady drumbeat of bad press” to negatively stigmatize oil produced
from the Canadian oil sands as the “poster child” of so-called “dirty fuel.”

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