Home Accountant Krause: Allan report gave environmental groups exactly what they wanted

Krause: Allan report gave environmental groups exactly what they wanted

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Disdained, overdue and over $ 1 million over budget, Premier Jason Kenney’s investigation into funding for anti-oil activism in Alberta ended last week with the release of the final report from Commissioner Steve Allan, forensic accountant.

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By giving environmental groups exactly what they wanted, Allan found no fault, nothing to dispute. In fact, his report praises Tzeporah Berman, finding his autobiography “particularly useful.”

The inquiry was called due to evidence that behind the protests, petitions, lobbying and lawsuits that have hampered all of Alberta’s pipeline projects was a central funding and coordinating apparatus called “The tar sands campaign”. For a decade, I compiled this evidence by going through income tax returns, financial statements, annual reports, and other documents.

Initial funding for the Tar Sands campaign came from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a famous family charity that pioneered the US oil industry. The fund’s tax returns show that in 2007, it donated US $ 250,000 to a California-based organization called Corporate Ethics International “to coordinate the early stages of a market campaign to stem demand for oil sands fuels in the United States. United States “.

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At first, the final goals of the oil sands campaign were not clear. That changed when CorpEthics published a web page that read, “From the start the campaign strategy was to lock up the tar sands so their crude couldn’t reach the international market where it could fetch a high price per barrel. ” CBC reported this and within days that description was rewritten and those revealing words were gone.

The coordination between the funders of the CorpEthics campaign is described on its website.

CorpEthics says it recruits groups, determines their role and necessary funding, oversees and reviews final reports. “Of course, we hold regular coordination meetings with the original funders to make sure they are fully informed of the campaign’s progress and challenges,” CorpEthics said.

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The clear admission that the goal was to “lock in” Canadian crude made me wonder if this was intentional interference in economic relations. With the help of some 20 friends from Calgary, I raised funds and retained the services of a law firm to draft an appropriate legal opinion paper which was provided to the Government of Alberta. in July 2018.

The budget was limited, so the legal opinion was only preliminary, but it was good enough for Rachel Notley, who was prime minister at the time. “We are working on setting up a second legal opinion,” the Energy Ministry office told me in November 2018. Things have moved much slower than I had hoped, but I think that I finally managed to break the traffic jam. It was January, a few months before Notley lost the 2019 election.

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When Kenney and the UCP won, I was hoping for a trial. I want to see the Rockefellers in a courthouse in Calgary, explain why they put the boots on in Alberta but not in Texas.

I support the goal of drastically reducing our use of fossil fuels, but I disagree with how the Oil Sands Campaign has gone about it because globally it has failed to keep up. oil in the ground. Global consumption has increased from 90 million barrels per day to almost 100 million. The United States lifted its oil export ban and production in Texas has exploded, meanwhile our country is in pipeline purgatory. Long blockades and project cancellations have caused generational economic pain without any environmental gain. This is why this campaign is unacceptable, regardless of who finances it, Canadian or foreign.

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In order to break the deadlock that is preventing Alberta oil from achieving its full value in international markets, one of the things government and industry need to know is whether something is illegal. Presumably, that’s why a law firm was hired. “He will find out if any laws have been broken,” Kenney said when announcing the inquiry. But that’s not what Commissioner Steve Allan did.

“No wrongdoing,” headlines exploded when the report was released. And yet, in his 657-page report, there is not a single sentence of legal analysis. What the Commissioner, who says he is not allowed to comment further, provided his personal opinion, not professional legal analysis.

The reason I followed the money is that some of the Alberta oil claims are half-truths at best. Donors should take responsibility for what they fund.

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One of the false claims against Alberta oil is that the industry is degrading or destroying an area the size of Florida or England. If this is true, it would be reprehensible, but it simply is not true. Yes the tar sands underlie a very large area and yes the tailings ponds are huge but they are less than one percent the size of England or Florida and by law the land must be remediated.

Allan calls for transparency, but his own report is heavily written. Entire data tables are blacked out, including all the names of 28 First Nations organizations that received US $ 102 million. Of the 120 pages of Deloitte’s report, at least 50 pages contain substantive writing.

Instead of public hearings, the Commissioner opted for a “correspondence hearing process”. It might have been a new way to conduct a public inquiry during a pandemic, but there was almost nothing public about this inquiry. The commissioner has not made public the correspondence he sent to environmental groups and their US backers, nor their responses.

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On the same day the investigation report was released, the Oil Sands Pathways Initiative released details of its commitment to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands development. This ambitious and long-term commitment will focus on the capture, use and storage of carbon, hydrogen and other technologies. Give credit where it’s due. The pressure from environmental campaigns has undoubtedly prompted the industry to take GHG emissions more seriously. Well done to the enviros. And well done to the industry too. If only we could do this without so much collateral damage.

Vivian Krause is a researcher and writer from Vancouver. On Twitter, she is @FairQuestions.

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