A U.S. fossil association has launched a public attack on two climate campaign organizations in Canada, Stand.earth and Sustainabiliteens, strangely accusing one of them of working to “create roadblocks and drive up costs for oil and natural gas development in Canada’s Pacific Northwest”.
[If anyone can find Canada’s Pacific Northwest, would you please let us know! Would that be Prince Rupert, or maybe the southwest corner of Yukon where it peeks through toward the coast?—Ed.]
The Independent Petroleum Association of America apparently took issue with the two organizations after their successful online rally delivered 56,000 petition signatures to representatives of the federal Liberal, New Democratic, and Green parties. The rally and petition demanded that government stimulus dollars during the coronavirus crisis fund retraining for oil and gas workers and development of renewable energy sources, not bailouts for fossil companies.
Somehow, the IPAA read that call to action as an attack on oil and gas workers.
“While an urgent public health crisis and international market conditions create havoc on Canadians’ well-being and economic prosperity, some special interest groups see an opportunity to inflict further harm on those workers,” the association writes on the Energy Central blog. “Last week, activist groups rallied to convince the Canadian federal government that the oil industry is not a valuable and robust driver of the economy.”
With the petition, Stand “is seeking to separate oil and natural gas workers from their companies in terms of who receives financial support from the federal aid,” the IPAA adds. “Stand.earth’s proposal puts forth a shortsighted solution to a challenge that goes far deeper than temporary income relief. Jobs in the energy industry can only be supported and sustained with a viable and healthy energy business.”
The IPAA post points to Stand’s early history as a U.S. non-profit focused on the forest industry, and tries to resurrect the thoroughly discredited notion that foreign-funded entities are out to disrupt Canada’s fossil industry. Stand.earth Climate and Energy Campaigner Sven Biggs responded that his organization “has always operated across borders because the industries that cause deforestation and pollution do, too,” pointing to the IPAA itself as an example.
“We took the position that any stimulus should put workers ahead of oil and gas CEOs and investors, because we see the clear evidence that bailouts don’t work,” Biggs told The Mix in an email. “Since the current downturn in the oilpatch began in 2014, we have seen the federal government and the government of Alberta intervene repeatedly to help oil companies, and yet job numbers in the sector have never returned to anywhere near 2014 levels. However, over the same period, the five largest companies in the sector have paid out C$31.76 billion in dividends to shareholders.”
He added that, “in the longer run, we need the federal government to continue to put workers and people before polluters by investing stimulus funding in retraining for oil and gas workers and helping to diversify the economy in regions of the country that currently rely on oil and gas.”