Friday, September 18, 2009

Tar Sands, Black Gold, and Green Oil

Calling all internet gumshoes…

Or maybe I should say “tar shoes”, since the issue that cries out for investigation concerns the extraction of oil from tar sands. Also known as “oil sands”, these petroleum deposits become competitive with other oil reserves only when the price of oil is high enough to make their extraction economically viable.

Canada has some of the most extensive tar sands in the world, and stands to benefit if it can bring the oil in them to market. Needless to say, the traditional players in the oil game have compelling reasons to suppress the tar sands industry.

Bear that in mind when you read the following email, which was sent to us recently by a reader in New York State. It concerns an incident that took place on the morning of Tuesday, September 15, at Niagara Falls, New York:

Niagara Falls 2Yesterday a group of six rappelling “activists” from Washington state unfurled a huge banner on the observation deck of the Niagara Falls lookout in Niagara Falls, NY.

The banner was anti-tar sands development, and the occasion was a visit by Canadian PM Stephen Harper to Niagara Falls, Canada. Supposedly the “activists” belonged to some green movement or other. It’s a bit fishy that they were all climbers from the same place in Washington and just happened to get themselves to Niagara Falls, NY.

However, this is not the least of the assaults on the tar sands projects. China last week announced a billion-dollar investment in a major tar sands player, and surprisingly this week it was discovered that both Norway and the UAE have invested heavily as well.

Needless to say all the anti tar sands agitprop comes from so-called Greens, but my suspicion is that the funding comes from Saudi sources.

This was an intriguing idea. I hadn’t heard about the incident, so I took a quick look around on the internet.

First of all, the news stories from Niagara Falls. According to The Niagara Gazette:

Niagara Falls 1Two men and a woman climbed onto the observation tower at the Niagara Falls State Park early Tuesday and rappelled 300 feet to unfurl a giant banner protesting what they call dirty oil being imported to the U.S. from Canada.

The trio, whose efforts were broadcast online moments after they began, rappelled from the catwalk beneath the tower. As they descended they draped a banner that spelled out “Clean Energy Future,” and “Tar Sands Oil,” with two arrows pointing in opposite directions to indicate that tar oil sands are harmful to the environment.

The three rappellers, wearing 40-pound harnesses, apparently climbed onto the catwalk beneath the tower about 6 a.m. to unfurl the banner.

Park police arrived shortly after the action began and tourists gathered to watch as the three dangled for several hours about 100 feet above the bank of the Niagara River. A drop would have landed them on a paved access road below.

More news articles about the incident can be found at WCAX, The Buffalo News, and MSNBC.

The group behind the action is the Rainforest Action Network:
- - - - - - - - -
Rainforest Action Network (RAN) is headquarted [sic] in San Francisco, California with offices staff in Tokyo, Japan, and Edmonton, Canada…

According to Discover the Networks:

RAN receives funding from the Ford Foundation, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, the Compton Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Educational Foundation of America, the Turner Foundation, Pew Charitable Trusts, the Blue Moon Fund, the Columbia Foundation, the Foundation for Deep Ecology, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

Sourcewatch also has an entry on the organization. The donors listed are the Ecology Trust, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Rudolf Steiner Foundation, the Wallace Global Fund, the Angelica Foundation, the Arntz Family Foundation, Peter and Mimi Buckley, Kimo Campbell, the Educational Foundation of America, the V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation, the Town Creek Foundation, Marion R. Weber, and Working Assets. A minimum of $130,000 was donated to RAN anonymously.

To uncover the ultimate funding sources for the organization would require backtracking up the food chain through these groups and checking out their funding sources. A quick peek at a few of them turned up nothing notable except some cross-connections to ACORN.

The people on the RAN board of directors don’t ring any bells, and there aren’t any Arab names. The “honorary” members include some of the usual celebrity suspects who like to support Green causes.

According to the Capital Research Center (pdf), RAN specializes in shaking down corporations with intimidation and “direct action”.

At this point I passed the ball to our Flemish correspondent VH, who specializes in crawling through the dim subterranean internet labyrinths of the extreme Left. He sent back these preliminary observations:

At first I thought of a Greenpeace link because of the mountaineers used at the waterfall, and indeed, they do have two Greenpeace people on their staff:

  • Andre Carothers, a former board member of Greenpeace, currently heads the Berkeley, California-based Rockwood Fund, which conducts “leadership training” programs for “social change” nonprofits.
  • Pamela Wellner, a senior campaigner at Greenpeace

In the pdf a lot of names are mentioned. Also some sponsors are known, like the Ford Foundation and Barbara Streisand, to name a couple.

As a side note: in the Netherlands, Greenpeace recently attacked fishermen by dumping concrete blocks [3000 kg each] in the sea where they were fishing, to mark out a “sea reserve” and cause fishing nets to be torn apart. The Greenpeace actions also violated a number of treaties.

The fishermen were outraged, because this will cause a ship to capsize when a net gets stuck on such a block. “Compare this to a mine field,” one of the fisherman said, and accused Greenpeace of attempted murder.

Greenpeace then announced that they had stopped dumping rocks, but that was an outright lie: they continued. They simply don’t care, just like the environmentalists who, beginning in 1933 and even during WWII, were all excited about the National Socialists, and massively joined the NSDAP (and that excitement was mutual, to say the least).

In their Environmental Fascism, Greenpeace is a worthy heir of the Green Nazis.

So the Green Nazis reject the black gold that comes from Canadian tar sands, in favor of the “Green Oil” that comes from… where?

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Venezuela, Russia, Nigeria, and Mexico, among other places.

Stay tuned: we hope to have more later on the tar sands. In the meantime, let the distributed intelligence of our readership go to work!

If you hit a gusher on this topic, pipe the results over here to Gates of Vienna for further refining.


prairie dog said...

We, here in Alberta, who work in the oil and gas industry do not call our oil rich deposits the derogatory term "tar sands".

They are correctly called the oil sands.

The impact of the emerging production will be felt by the OPEC traditionalists, sure. I have not heard any talk here about the eco-nuts being bank rolled by the Saudis....but it is a consideration worth examining.


Tuan Jim said...

I've heard and seen a LOT of BS about the oil sands from the enviro crowd (European and otherwise), but I've never yet seen any direct ties to the Saudis.

I'll bounce this off another couple people though.

be603 said...

How much of the issue is one of initial capitalization of the industry for extraction from oil sands?

Once the original investment is made in an area does the financial breakpoint for production from oil sands move down as the original investment is amoritized?

Robohobo said...

Okay, I have some thing along the lines of the nuts and bolts.

My wife's cousin's husband is a mining engineer whose company has and licenses a tech to extract the oil from the tar/oil sands. They mine the sands, use an orange oil fraction to put the bitumen from the sands into suspension, heat that mixture with steam to loosen the bitumen/orange oil mixture from the sands then extract the mixture. The orange oil is recovered from the bitumen at a rate of >90% for reuse, the steam is condensed for reuse and the sands are returned to the mining area so the mine can be reclaimed. The whole process is very environmentally friendly and the bitumen, of course, yields much more than just crude oil.

The "Greens" are just Marxists/ Communists in other clothing. If the world had any justice.....

Tuan Jim said...

On second's unlikely to be the Saudis or anyone else in that region...unless they're covering their tracks incredibly well.

Doing something like this would really piss off and antagonize the oil companies (well not necessarily this worthless publicity stunt, but you get the idea) - but they need the oil companies themselves. Those jokers can't even pump their own oil, much less refine it or anything else - completely dependent on foreign companies for that and everything else...most of the same companies who'd be involved in projects like this.

The Chinese, conceivably since we've already seen that they're trying to gain control of resources outside their sovereign territory...and "scaring" the price down now makes it cheaper for future development.

Kinda like those articles we discussed previously about ongoing development in the Gulf of Mexico by everyone BUT us, etc.

Tuan Jim said...

Again though, it's a lot of work to go through a lot of organizations that'd be just as opposed to Chinese activity as anything else (the Chinese like to keep a low profile...but again, I don't see direct ties between them and any of the orgs listed/discussed). They keep a low enough profile not to get directly on any countries $hit list, but it really doesn't matter as long as the national interest is met.

Any stunt like the one in the article is really unnecessary for their purposes and a waste of time and effort.

heroyalwhyness said...

Tuan Jim: "Any stunt like the one in the article is really unnecessary for their purposes and a waste of time and effort."

Any stunt? Consider the success such "greenie" stunts have enjoyed thus far with ANWR and the Gulf of Mexico.
Hugh Fitzgerald often refers to J B Kelly's, "Of Valuable Oil and Worthless Policies". Legions of political whores continue to enable this counter-intuitive matrix to this day.

spackle said...

Believe it or not but there is large deposit of natural gas in south eastern NY state that a bunch of companies want a crack at. What do you think the outcome of that was?

heroyalwhyness said...

FWIW: American Solutions (Drill Here Drill Now) sent the following request:

If you care about making sure we're not dependent on foreign countries for our energy, we have a very timely call to action that will take you less than 1 minute.

The Department of Interior, which decides when and where we drill for oil and gas, has been holding a "notice and comment" period. This is when they solicit input from the public as to whether we should drill or not.

This is one way that the anti-energy interest groups have been able to successfully block any common sense development for decades.

Well the deadline for submissions is on Monday, and we need your help to overwhelm the Interior Department with comments in favor of drilling.

Please take 1 minute to submit your comments right now at

If you don't have time to write anything, don't worry. We've already taken care of it for you.

Once you submit your comment, please forward to anyone else that you think would be willing to help out.

This is an opportunity that we must seize.

Thanks so much for your participation, and we'll report back soon as to how we all do.

Dan Varroney
Senior VP & COO
American Solutions

Engineer-Poet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Engineer-Poet said...

You can dismiss any major connections between RAN and the KSA.

RAN and its associates are far more concerned with water pollution and the attendant health problems and global warming.  Their angle is the elimination of fossil fuels and environmentally destructive biofuels (i.e. palm oil grown on cleared rainforest), not promoting the interests of Islamists.

What gets me about the people here is the utter lack of will to do anything about Saudi money yourselves.  What have you done to eliminate your own payments into their coffers?  How many of you drive SUVs and act as if cheap petroleum is utterly disconnected from everything else you hold dear?

If you were all as rational as you claim you are patriotic, the first thing you would have done after 9/11 is park your gas-guzzler and demand radically higher fuel taxes and fuel economy.  You would have had such a groundswell for the anti-petroleum movement that this 170 MPG car from VW would have been well behind production announcements from Ford and GM.  The Tango would have had money to finish its crash-certification testing and be in mass production already.

But you didn't.  Those are "greenie" things, and your opposition to "greenie" things is more important to you than removing the Islamic bloodsuckers from the US economy.  As ye sow, so shall ye reap.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Energy taxes, with the purpose of constructing a new energy infrastructure independent of Arab oil, is the way to go. Libertarians be damned, this is a task for a government and a nation as a whole.

Michael Gersh said...

Engineer-Poet, you seem to have no idea the difference between free markets and coercive government systems. "We" believe that ecology and economy are interrelated - that efficiency is the route to "sustainable development," not bigger government. You post the "Tango" which costs over $150,000. You believe that crushingly high taxes are the perfect coercive way to force consumers to buy that which all-knowing bureaucrats decide is best for us. Fine and well for you, but when you exhort believers in personal freedom of judgment to kowtow to your demands, you display a lack of seriousness. You reveal yourself to be an online troll by your post above.

Engineer-Poet said...

Indeed, Henrik.  In the USA during WWII, gasoline was rationed and posters proclaimed "When you ride ALONE you ride with Hitler!".  It is even more true today that driving a thirsty vehicle feeds the Saudi da'wa machine and the zakat which buys terrorism, but the counterjihad in the USA was and remains a group packed with fervent defenders of big SUVs.  There is a huge mental disconnect.  The guy who tool around in a duallie or buys a house in the country beyond regular road service so the only way to get to it is with a 4x4 is literally giving aid and comfort to the enemy.  We need to recognize this and stop doing it, leading by example.  Instead, most people in the counterjihad attack the messenger (with some prominent counterexamples like ex-CIA director Woolsey).

Mr. Gersh writes:

"you seem to have no idea the difference between free markets and coercive government systems."

This is war.  Did we win WWII with free markets, or coercive government systems?  Shooting Taliban is non-coercive?  Iraq doesn't look much like a free market to me either.

"efficiency is the route to "sustainable development," not bigger government."

How do you promote efficiency?  Make it pay!  Efficiency pays in Europe; you can buy cars there which get upwards of 70 MPG.  Nothing actually made by Detroit gets even half that.  The reason is Europe actually uses taxes to discourage the use of petroleum.

Fuel taxes don't need to feed bigger government.  For instance, you could tax motor fuel and pass the money back as a Social Security deductible.  Raise the tax 5¢ a month for the next 5 years, and keep the new tax at a minimum of half of the pump price of fuel.  No bureaucracy, no meddling in your life, just making it pay to avoid using oil however you could.  It would make new markets in efficiency.

"You post the "Tango" which costs over $150,000."

Hogwash.  The hand-build supercar T600 kit is $108,000 for a "a cost-no-object project", and it includes a "10-year, unlimited, mileage warranty".

Commuter Cars has the T200 and the T100 in the pipeline,.  The specs and projected pricing for these are no longer on the site, but I can tell you that they were far, far cheaper.  However, to be produced in volume they need to be NHTSA-certified (crash testing).  This is a few million bucks.  Are you telling me that the counterjihad can't come up with a few million bucks to help the USA get off Saudi oil?

There's also the Aptera starting around $25,000.  One model is 100% electric, one is plug-in hybrid, both highway-capable.  Volkswagen is talking about the 170 MPG car I linked above.  There's the GM Volt.  Why aren't YOU clamoring for these things?  I was, starting right after 9/11, but by 2004 the only options I had that beat 35 MPG were Japanese and German!  I wound up with a diesel, so I'm out of the market for maybe 5-10 more years.

"You believe that crushingly high taxes are the perfect coercive way to force consumers to buy that which all-knowing bureaucrats decide is best for us."

No, I'm saying that GAS taxes are the perfect way to de-fund the single biggest financier of jihad, by making it pay to change behavior that mere anti-jihad convictions won't.  Besides, we fight wars as a nation, not as individuals.  If you want to opt out of this war, you are a traitor to freedom.

"when you exhort believers in personal freedom of judgment to kowtow to your demands, you display a lack of seriousness."

When you argue for gas-guzzlers, you support jihad.  Plain and simple.