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Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse
“U.S. Refiners Don’t Care if Keystone Gets Built” – The Wall Street Journal, September 5, 2013
The following article is the third installment of an investigative report that demonstrates why billions of dollars are pumped into the non-profit industrial complex by corporate interests, effectively to manufacture discourse in order to protect the ruling classes from systemic change. The first installment outlined the key players: Barack Obama, Hillary and Bill Clinton, Warren Buffett, the Rockefeller family, Bill Gates, and Bill Ackman. The key instruments employed by the state and the oligarchs were/are a cluster of foundation-financed NGOs. These included/include Greenpeace, Sierra Club, NRDC and others, with 350.org/1Sky at the helm leading the cunning and strategic discourse.
“The biggest mystery about the Keystone XL pipeline is why its final stage hasn’t already been approved by the Obama administration…. From following the contentious Keystone pipeline debate, you can be forgiven if you think that the fight is over whether to build it. That’s not quite right. The Keystone system has already been transporting oil sands from Canada to U.S. refineries in the Midwest for three years – with no major leaks.” — USA Today, September 5, 2013
All (Rail) Roads Lead to Profit
“BNSF is the largest U.S. crude hauler, transporting more than one-third of the Bakken production alone with 85,000 barrel capacity unit trains. The company reports that crude and petroleum car loadings are up 60 percent through June. BNSF CEO Matt Rose said that the road is ‘seeing strong double-digit type growth’ in the shale fracking markets. ‘Everything to do with drilling, horizontal drilling, frack sand, pipe, oil – it’s phenomenal.’” —Keystone and the Buffet Rule, August 20, 2012
Warren Buffett | Berkshire Hathaway
As reported in the first installment of this report, on November 3, 2009, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway would purchase BNSF for $44 billion. The acquisition, approved by both boards of both corporations was approved by BNSF shareholders on February 12, 2010.
Financing the Big Greens Tar Sands Campaign: The Tides Foundation
“Philanthropy, we are told, is to replace the welfare state: instead of attempting to redistribute wealth via taxation and democratic planning, austerity politicians are in the process of dispatching with what they view as an irritating relic of working class history. In its place we are informed that we should rely upon the charity of the greediest and most exploitative subset of society, our country’s leading capitalists. A group of individuals whose psychological temperament is better described as psychopathic rather than altruistic.” — Joel Bakan, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power
Sadly, the far-right is far more interested than the “progressive greens,” and climate justice activists themselves, in the motives behind U.S. foundations funnelling millions of dollars in funding to further promote all energies and focus on the Tar Sands campaign: a campaign that concentrates almost exclusively on the Keystone extension while oil via rail, expedited pipeline projects and fracking continues to skyrocket. The far-right has taken note. Finance/markets and investors have certainly taken note. The only crowd that seems most disinterested in understanding, let alone acknowledging, the millions of dollars being funneled into this campaign are the organizations/activists beholden to 350.org et al – who are in turn, beholden to their funders.
November 8, 2012, Globe & Mail video: Canada’s Pipelines: Beyond Gateway and Keystone (Running time: 2:08 minutes)
“There’s a part of this story you likely don’t know, and people like Bill McKibben – as well as Canadian public figure Tzeporah Berman (who runs an outfit that legally exists as a project of the Tides Foundation called the North American Tar Sands Coalition, a secret outfit that determines both strategy and funding for literally dozens of environmental NGO’s and community groups across North America) – would prefer it stays that way.” — Macdonald Stainsby, Oil Sands Truth
Note: Dirty Oil Sands is now Tar Sands Solutions Network. Graph Source 
If we revisit Part I of this investigative report, the condensed timeline may assist in establishing why we see the funding increasingly markedly after 2007.
*June 25, 2006: Buffett pledged to donate most of his wealth to the foundation established by Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda Gates, as well as other “philanthropic” organizations.
*2007: 1Sky (which would officially merge with 350.org in April of 2011) is created by the Clinton and Rockefeller foundations in collaboration with “progressive greens.”
*2007: Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway begins to acquire the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad stock.
*2007: 60% of Marmon Holdings (Union Tank Car Co.) was acquired by Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, with the remaining 40% to be acquired in the next five to seven years.
*Feb 7, 2008: Financial Post quoting Warren Buffett: “The tar sands are probably as big a potential source of production 15 to 20 years from now. It would surprise me if the world wasn’t wanting to use 200 million barrels per day [of oil] in 15 or 20 years. The tar sands are the biggest single possibility to fill the gap that, it looks like, will otherwise develop in the next decade or two.”
*2007-2008, Warren Buffett: advisor to Barack Obama and major financial backer/supporter of Hilary Clinton [Sources: Aug 16, 2007, June 27, 2007, March 28, 2008, Dec 9, 2007, May 19, 2008, July 3, 2008, July 19, 2011]
*Aug 19, 2008: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates make a quiet visit to the Alberta tar sands.
*Railway Magazine Nov 2008: Burlington’s Manager of Businesses Development, Jane Halvorson, identified an “opportunity to offer rail service as an alternative to pipelines to get the bitumen blend to the refineries.” Depending, she added, on “partnerships with the Canadian railroads.”
*Sept 19, 2008: TransCanada submits application to State Department for a Presidential Permit for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The State Department commences the environmental review process.
*Feb 2009: Thousands of citizens, including many who live along the pipeline route, express to the State Department serious concerns about the proposal in public hearings and in written comments.
*April 9, 2009: Game-changer: Canadian oil sands will bypass U.S. for Asia
*April 11, 2009: CN idea a winner for oil sands
*August 2009: U.S. State Department approves the Enbridge’s Alberta Clipper Pipeline, a key tar sands pipeline.350.org et al are silent.
*Nov 3, 2009: Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway proposes to purchase BNSF Railway as a wholly owned subsidiary for $44 billion in the largest deal in Berkshire history. As of June 2009, Berkshire Hathaway was the 18th largest corporation on Earth.
*Feb 4, 2010: 86 U.S. organizations call on President Obama to reject the Keystone pipeline extension.
Number One Financier of the Tides Foundation: Buffett’s NoVo Foundation
Peter Buffett, musician and youngest son of investor, Warren Buffett, along with his spouse (who serves as president), are the founders and co-chairs of the NoVo Foundation. NoVo was created in 2006 after Warren Buffett pledged to donate 350,000 shares of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. stock to the foundation (value approximately U.S.$2.5 billion). [Source] As the charts below demonstrate, NoVo Foundation is (as of 2011), the top donor to Tides in the timeframe outlined. [Source: 
McKibben, Peter Buffett & the Green Bourgeois
“The conference will also include a major public address on Friday evening by the noted climate change leader, Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org, as well as a Saturday concert by the talented musician Peter Buffett, author of Life is What You Make It: Find Your Own Path to Fulfillment and son of investor legend Warren Buffett.” — Strategies for a New Economy Conference, New Economics Institute press release, May 7, 2012
The expression/noun, elitism, fits seamlessly, like a velvet glove, within the context of the above statement.
elitism — n
1.a. the belief that society should be governed by a select group of gifted and highly educated individuals
b. such government
2. pride in or awareness of being one of an elite group
“In this paradoxical, nightmare-like scenario, where ruling class criminals throw back pennies and moral judgements to those whose lives they have destroyed in the name of capitalism, we begin to see the true meaning of capitalist charity.” — Michael Barker
Bill McKibben and Peter Buffet headlined the weekend conference (Strategies for a New Economy Conference). The entire press release reads like a list of “who’s who” in the world of elitist, classist, green bourgeoisie. The relationship between McKibben, the Ceres affiliates and the oligarchs they serve is laid bare for all to see, with Bill McKibben featured with Warren Buffett’s son, Peter Buffett. Let us be clear, neither the Ceres “society” nor Bob Massie chose Buffett’s name from a hat nor did Buffett fall from the (1)Sky. These are extremely interconnected, well-established relationships with strong alliances and loyalties bound together by privilege, philanthropy, and whiteness.
Buffet’s Top Holdings | Media, Water, Lithium, Agriculture
In 2008, Buffett invested $230 million to acquire 10% of BYD Company, which operates a subsidiary of electric automobile manufacturer, BYD Auto. In less than one year, the investment returned a 500% profit.Indispensable to this electric auto industry is lithium, hence it is no surprise to identify a BYD subsidiary (BYD Lithium Battery Co.)that focuses exclusively on lithium batteries. This is of significant importance since the anti-imperialist sovereign state of Bolivia holds 50% to 70% of the world’s lithium reserves. President Evo Morales has vowed repeatedly that, after being oppressed and exploited by foreign interests for centuries, Bolivia will “never cede control” of its lithium reserves. In late 2011, anti-REDD Bolivia rose above what many would cite as an attempted destabilization that was strategically led by U.S. (and pro-REDD) NGOs: Avaaz, Amazon Watch and Democracy Centre. [REDD: AUnited Nations Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation via carbon markets. REDD has been cited as a new form of colonialism by Indigenous peoples throughout the world. According to The New York Times, in 2011 alone, over 22,000 farmers with land deeds were violently evicted for a REDD-type project in Uganda. Eight-year old Friday Mukamperezida was killed when his home was burned to the ground. The state of Bolivia's alternative proposal, ignored by NGOs, can be found here.]
In 2012, Buffett acquired Media General, owner of 63 newspapers in the south-eastern United States. This purchase represented the second media purchase by Buffett in one year. Buffet continued media acquisitions into 2013. It is also critical to note that Buffett joined his close friend and confidant, Bill Gates (the number one shareholder in CN Rail), in investing heavily in Deere & Company–the globe’s largest manufacturer of farm equipment.Gates, who became the largest shareholder in Deere in August of 2011, has been actively pumping millions of dollars into GMO research via his foundation as well as owning shares in Monsanto. [The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation purchased 500,000 shares in Monsanto in 2010. The shares are valued at more than $23 million. On July 15, 2012, the UK Daily Mail reports: "British scientists have won a £6.4million grant from Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates to develop genetically modified crops. The Gates Foundation's donation is one of the largest single investments to the GM project in the UK."] The interest in industrialized farming-related stocks shared by both Gates and Buffett (and facilitated by the World Bank and Wall Street) perhaps signal the accelerating land grabs as leading GHG-emitting states and corporations attempt to secure/steal agricultural lands and limited natural resources for a growing population on a decimated planet.
BNSF & IBM to Profit Billions on Water Treatment
The North American Indigenous Peoples Caucus (NAIPC) met on March 1, 2 and 3, 2013 in the traditional territory of the Kumeyaay Nation. The meeting was attended by approximately 97 representatives from 54 Indigenous Peoples’ Nations and organizations.
In the final hours of the meeting, delegates presenting and participating reviewed a draft report of the meeting, made amendments from the floor, and the amended draft report was adopted by consensus. The following text is taken from the full report of the NAIPC, which was formally transmitted to the UNPFII Secretariat for inclusion as an official document for the upcoming UNPFII-12, and to other bodies and fora, as needed. [Decisions and Recommendations of the North American Indigenous Peoples' Caucus to the 12th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and to other bodies and fora, as appropriate] [Emphasis in original document.]
· The NAIPC recommends that the Outcome Document acknowledge water as a critical element for cultural, physical, and spiritual survival.
· The NAIPC recommends that the Outcome Document take a position against Aquacide: the killing of the waters by dams, diversions, privatization, deprivations, extractive industrial and mega-agricultural developments, hydraulic-fracturing, toxins, and pollution, and other ways that inhibit or preclude Water’s ability to nurture and support Life. This includes working to immediately halt Aquicide by all forms of exploitation, commodification, and other assaults that impede or destroy the life giving quality of Water.
In stark contrast to such demonstrated wisdom and intelligence, the privileged Euro-American patriarchal male tends to not think in terms of respect for our Earth and shared environment that graciously sustains all life….
“When you start to think like we think, you don’t see water in the pipes. You see dollar signs.” — Eric Berliner, IBM, as quoted in the article, Why GE, Coca-Cola, and IBM are Getting into the Water Business, April 2011
Yet, the stark contrast to wisdom and leadership demonstrated by Indigenous Peoples throughout America and the world, does not limit itself to the privileged Euro-American patriarchal male that dominates the capitalist system. One only has to look at the Tar Sands Solutions Network twitter feed to see who this network (registered to the queen green capitalist, Tzeporah Berman, Forest Ethics) looks to for “leadership” (read from bottom, to view the first chosen/key alliances).
In spite of the rhetoric put forward by Tar Sands Solutions Network claiming “Tar Sands Solutions Network is a growing international network of organizations including First Nations, environmental groups, landowners, farmers, scientists, community leaders, academics, and grass roots groups located throughout North America and Europe,” the facts speak otherwise.
The “solutions” network follows (literally, in all senses of the word) organizations and professional elites that undermine our justice movements from within. The most critical aspect to note is this: Although Indigenous populations are the most impacted by tar sands projects and although Indigenous Peoples have the knowledge and insight to lead us away from global omnicide, there is but one single Indigenous organization being followed by the Tar Sands Solutions Network initial twitter account. (There is one individual Indigenous person – but elitist, groomed, Rockwood Alumni does not truly qualify. No Indigenous, no landowners, no scientists. In order of first added: Pembina Institute, Sierra Club, Dogwood Initiative, Earthworks, Forest Ethics, Friends of the Earth U.S., Greenpeace USA, Honor the Earth, NRDC and RAN with CERES following closely.) On the secondary twitter account, we see a similar pattern (again, from bottom, first chosen, the top big green groups include David Suzuki Foundation, Sierra Club, NRDC, Greenpeace, National Wildlife Federation, Bill McKibben, Centre for Biodiversity, WWF, Climate Reality, 350.org and Nature Conservancy, Greenpeace USA, Conservation International, RAN, WWF, Tzeporah Berman, etc.). The crème de la crème of the big green NGOs and liberal left with not one single Indigenous organization or citizen. [Information on both twitter accounts accessed on September 19, 2013.] Note that Dirty Oil Sands has been rebranded to Tar Sands Solutions Network. It appears that there is no disclosure regarding funding/financing from the Tides Foundation, or any other source, on the site.
Tar sands corporations are licensed to use twice the amount of fresh water than the entire city of Calgary uses in one year. As much as four barrels of fresh water are contaminated for every one barrel of bitumen produced. Toxic fracking chemicals used to leach the last underground pockets of natural gas, necessary to distill the tar sands, are rapidly poisoning the Canadian province of Alberta’s remaining groundwater reserves. [Source]
Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway’s extensive holdings include the corporate entities ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and General Electric – all with close ties to the Alberta tar sands. In the world of capitalism even death and environmental degradation transcend into insurmountable monetary wealth for the world’s leading psychopaths. “General Electric Water & Process Technologies” stands to gain vast amounts of profit by treating immense amounts of fresh water, which is made toxic/contaminated during the tar sands procurement process.
“In 2007, GE entered into a $15-million technology development program with the Alberta Water Research Institute and its research funding partners. The program aims to develop technology to improve water reuse and management in in-situ oil sands operations. GE is also actively involved in developing and proving effective technologies for treating tailings water for industrial reuse, in order to help operators improve the efficiency of their operations.” [Source: September 9, 2010 General Electric Press Release]
In addition to its partnership with the Alberta Water Research Institute, GE also owns a water treatment facility in the tar sands patch via its wholly owned subsidiary, Zenon Environmental Inc., which it purchased for $760 million in 2006. Further, in September 2011, Grizzly Oil Sands ULC “selected GE’s (NYSE: GE) produced water evaporation technology for its Algar Lake project near Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada.” [Source]
In 2009, Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, became the largest shareholder in Nalco, a water-services, treatment, and equipment corporation, which has no public profile yet has 12,000 employees and nearly $4 billion in revenue. In late 2011, Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway purchased $10.7 billion of IBM stock. Although this stock has taken a recent hit, one can be assured that this is of no worry to Buffett. Indeed, Buffett is in it for the long haul: “The conventional estimate is that around the world, water is a $400-billion-a-year business. That’s four times the size of IBM’s annual revenue, but that figure includes everything from digging up worn-out water pipes to building billion-dollar desalination plants. IBM says the smart-water market, the information-technology part of water, could be worth between $15 billion and $20 billion a year.” [From the article Why GE, Coca-Cola, and IBM are Getting into the Water Business. Note that Buffett is heavily invested in all 3 corporations, with Coca-Cola and IBM representing Buffett's top second and third holdings respectively.]
It is of interest that in late 2012 Buffett sold most of his stocks in GE. [Nov 14, 2012, Buffett's Berkshire Sells Most of J&J and GE Stakes: "The warrants and high interest rates he was able to garner by lending money to General Electric (GE), Bank of America (BAC) and Goldman Sachs (GS) in the depths of the financial crisis are great examples of this investing strategy."] At this same time Buffett increased his shares in National Oilwell Varco by 47%. National Oilwell Varco is a worldwide leader in providing major mechanical components for land and offshore drilling rigs. As profitable as it is to capitalize on the poisoning/degradation of Earth’s fresh water, it appears the oil industry that destroys the fresh water is too lucrative to not make first priority.
Rail Tank Car Production
“Amid U.S. Oil Boom, Railroads Are Beating Pipelines in Crude Transport” — Business Week, June 13, 3013
The rail car industry will soon enough finish building the 40,000 oil tankers ordered/required for the tar sands oil. (Growth in crude by rail (CBR) has been rapid, creating a two-year backlog on deliveries of new tank cars.) To accommodate the high pressure loading of the Bakken oil, the oil must be kept thin. For this they need warmers (breakout tanks/oil storage facilities). The specialized heating equipment is used to heat the crude prior to unloading, meaning more crude is shipped and the cost of diluent is saved.
In the September 27, 2013 article A Stronger Network, With More Capacity, How BNSF is leveraging a record $4.3 billion in capital investment, it is reported that “[T]hese capacity improvements will improve service to pipeline operators and short lines, which have built 12 terminals adjacent to BNSF and Canadian Pacific infrastructure in northwestern North Dakota in the past two years, increasing the number of terminals to 16. These terminals are handling crude delivered by truck or pipelines, and according to the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, terminal capacity has increased to 730,000 barrels per day since they were built.” North Dakota produced an average of 821,431 barrels per day in June of 2013. This amount is set to double by 2017.
The average price of a new tank car increased from $74M [thousand] in 2011 to $100M in 2012, increasing to $133M in 2013. The shortage is exacerbated by tank car manufacturers who retain many of the tank cars they produce to lease. Leasing rates in some instances have more than quadrupled to $2,500 a month. The boom is set to continue with approximately 1 MMB/D (Million Barrels per Day) of new rail-unloading capacity being built or planned in the U.S. during 2013, representing three times the current shipping level. [Source]
BNSF announced in September of 2012 that it would be increasing train sizes from 100 to 104 tank cars and in some cases up to 118 tank cars. [Source: BNSF]A single tank car carries approximately 660-720 barrels of crude oil. [Source: BNSF] Therefore, 118 tank cars carrying 720 barrels of crude represents 84,960 barrels of oil. Simply put, a mere 10 trains at optimal performance would exceed Keystone XL’s carrying capacity (which is 830,000 barrels per day). On September 4, 2012 BNSF announced that it increased capacity in 2012 to enable the railroad to haul one million barrels per day out of the Williston Basin in North Dakota and Montana.
“But the ‘scalability’ of the concept – up to four million barrels per day – means that the railway can ramp up production vastly by just adding rail cars.” — August 21, 2012, Railways ship bitumen to relieve pipeline bottlenecks
“Tank cars are owned by either shippers or lessors, not by railroads. At year end Union Tank Car andProcor together owned 97,000 cars having a net book value of $4 billion. A new car, it should be noted, costs upwards of $100,000. Union Tank Car is also a major manufacturer of tank cars – some of them to be sold but most to be owned by it and leased out. Today, its order book extends well into 2014. At both BNSF and Marmon, we are benefitting from the resurgence of U.S. oil production. In fact, our railroad is now transporting about 500,000 barrels of oil daily, roughly 10% of the total produced in the “lower 48″ (i.e. not counting Alaska and offshore). All indications are that BNSF’s oil shipments will grow substantially in coming years.” [Source: Berkshire's Corporate Performance vs. the S&P 500] [The PROCOR Corporation (Canadian) is the largest tanker owner. The other tanker manufacturers are the GATX and TILX corporations.]
“Investors like Carl Icahn and Warren Buffett have long seen the opportunity coming and are well-positioned in the business…. Mr. Buffett has a controlling stake in Union Tank Car, and has emerged as a major beneficiary of the crude-via-rail boom as the owner of BNSF Railway Co. – one of North America’s largest railway companies. BNSF reportedly earned U.S. $272-million from crude shipments alone in 2012.” — Feb 22, 2013, Demand for tank cars to ship crude oil by rail rises at breakneck speed
“The potential for railway companies to increase its [sic] exposure to the crude oil transportation business can be exponential. The current consensus is that the lack of available tank cars is causing a bottleneck in the crude-by-rail supply chain, while other impediments to growth include the lack of offloading terminals to deliver the product, absence of rail access to origination sites, and the need for coastal refiners to re-configure their plants to be able to process heavier crude that is produced in the U.S. midcontinent.” Jan 18, 2013
“Less than a month ago, Valero said it would own 9,000 rail cars by the end of 2014. That plan already has been revised, as the company will own 12,320 rail cars by the second quarter of 2015, spokesman Bill Day said. The company hasn’t announced its total expenditures to buy rail cars. But Day said Valero will spend about $750 million on the 5,300 cars it has on order now. That’s about $140,000 per rail car.” — Rail picks up steam as a way to move crude, May 27, 2013
Translation: Rail tank cars = $$$. Terminals = $$$. Rail track = $$$ in subsidies. Chemical diluents = $$$.
All of the above = planetary ecocide, and slow-scale genocide.
BNSF is set to gain massive profits through building rail tank cars, since one of the only obstacles to the crude-by-rail boom is that the shippers can’t purchase the rail tank cars fast enough. The North American rail tank car manufacturers [Union Tank Car Co., Greenbrier Companies, American Railcar Industries, Inc., FreightCar America Inc., Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corporation, Trinity Industries Inc.]have back orders for 48,000 new rail tank cars through 2014. [Source: Rail Theory Forecasts] When the new rail tank cars emerge into service, North American railroads will have the capacity to ship 2 million barrels of crude oil per day. 
The fact that an increasing number of refineries are opting to own or lease these rail tank cars, rather than leaving it to rail corporations, speaks to the anticipated exponential growth. For example, Valero Energy Corp (VLO)announced on January 15, 2013 that they intend to purchase an additional 2,000 railcars, which will bring its current fleet of rail tank cars to 9,000 in order to haul even more of the prolificEagle Ford crudeto its refineries.[Bloomberg, August 22, 2013, Eagle Ford Crude Production Rose 60% in June from Prior Year]. As disclosed in part one of this investigative report, Buffet/Berkshire Hathaway also holds shares in Valero.
“This increasing demand for tank cars means that delivery of tank cars grew significantly in 2012 to approximately 18,000 deliveries, and current backlog suggest[s] more than 23,000 deliveries of tank cars will be completed in 2013. This is in comparison to the less than 10,000 tank car deliveries in 2010 and 2011 and the approximately 20,000 tank cars currently transporting crude oil on railways.” — January 18, 2013, Kapital Wire, 5 Tank Car Manufacturers to Benefit from Crude-by-Rail
One thing is certain: with every gain in profits glorified and celebrated by the industrial capitalists, it is yet another day that our Earth has been savagely plundered for her natural resources – soon, beyond recognition.
[+++Note from author: The following two paragraphs were written in the spring of 2013, prior to the Lac Mégantic disaster.]
“In 2008, trains carried fewer than 20,000 barrels a day of oil in the United States. But by the end of last year, roughly 500,000 barrels of oil per day moved on the rails. Spills are a key concern.” — The Globe and Mail, July 7, 2013
All pipelines spill. Like 350.org, TransCanada, et al prefer to tell citizens what citizens want to hear. TransCanada predicted the Keystone pipeline would spill once every seven years. However, the reality was that the pipeline spilled 12 times during its first year of production, exceeding 30 spills over its existence. The Keystone XL pipeline will also spill, as rail tank cars spill, and will continue to spill. Corporations could not care less because when they do spill, they will do their best to ensure the taxpayers clean it up. (All while they make billions in unsurpassed profits. All while they continue to access massive subsidies. All while some other states, such as Venezuela, whose governments actually are representative of people, rather than corporations, nationalize their resources. All while other states, already developed – in this instance, a Spanish island – work decade after decade toward a transition from fossil fuels toward zero emissions.) In many, perhaps most, instances, the corporate entity will win(monetarily) and be deemed not responsible for the ecological nightmare.Even when they “lose” by way of a large monetary financial judgement (which is pocket change compared to their quarterly profits), rarely do they ever actually pay any meaningful monetary amounts in the way of settlements. Being the psychopaths that they are, they much prefer to give their money to lawyers rather than the (in many/most cases) impoverished peoples whose lives and land they have completely destroyed beyond repair.
Since acquiring former BC Rail lines in 2003 and disconnecting its locomotives’ dynamic engine brakes, CN experienced 11 derailments in 2005 alone. More train wrecks have followed. [Source] Between 1999 and 2010, Enbridge Corp. acknowledged responsibility for 804 spills, releasing at minimum 168,645 barrels of crude oil into integral tributaries, sensitive wetlands and water tables in Canadian and U.S. communities. [Source] Case in point: on March 28, 2013, a mile-long Canadian Pacific Railway train derailed, rupturing three tankers and leaking around 15,000 gallons of fuel. Days later, on April 3, 2013, a Canadian Pacific Railway train derailed in northern Ontario. Two of about 20 derailed cars were carrying light sweet crude but remained contained.
“Quebec disaster: Oil shipments by rail have increased 28,000 per cent since 2009″ — CTVNews, July 7, 2013
The relative indestructibility of the oil tanker is the main selling point put forward by the industry. Yet, the horrific oil-by-rail accident in Lac Mégantic, Quebec, Canada, on July 6, 2013, makes this selling “feature” moot. The Lac Mégantic disaster represents the fourth deadliest rail accident in Canadian history, and the deadliest rail tragedy in Canada since the St-Hilaire train disaster in 1864. The catastrophe occurred when an unattended 74-car freight train carrying Bakken formation crude oil ran away and derailed, resulting in the fire and explosion of multiple tank cars, resembling a blazing inferno of hell. Forty-two people have been confirmed dead with 5 more people assumed to have been vaporized by the explosions according to the spokesperson for the Quebec coroner’s office. More than 30 buildings in the town’s centre, roughly half of the downtown area, were completely annihilated. Initial newspaper reports described a 1 km blast radius. This horrific accident – a direct result of oil via rail – was of unparalleled magnitude compared to any other recent disaster. Yet this inferno, which demolished an entire downtown core, was barely mentioned by mainstream media as it unfolded. (In one example, CNN did a live broadcast of the airplane accident (Asiana Airlines Flight 214), giving zero coverage to Lac Mégantic. Canadian media, ever so slowly, gave exposure to the nightmarish accident in the days that followed.)
And although 350.org would have you believe they are campaigning against tar sands, what is one to make of the fact that these groups made no mention whatsoever of the apocalyptic remnants of Lac Mégantic to their “followers” / supporters. Aside from an honourable mention to 350Maine, the only reference to the most dreadful accident directly resulting from oil via rail (as of July 22, 2013), is a press release (simply titled “Over fifty groups call for tougher oil transportation safety rules”) quietly sent to media on July 22, 2013.
Yet, 350′s Canadian counterpart, Leadnow, could not ignore a disaster on such an epic scale. So what did Leadnow instruct their followers to do? Did they demand that the transportation of oil via rail be banned? No, rather they instructed their supporters to:
“Tell Prime Minister Harper and the new Minister of Transport, Lisa Raitt, that you demand an immediate ban on using dangerous 111A tank cars to transport oil, and join the call for a full review of how dangerous fuels like oil and gas are transported through our communities – by train, pipeline, and truck.”
A ban on 111A tank cars (meaning we need new or alternate models of “safe” tank cars)? A full review of “how dangerous fuels like oil and gas are transported through our communities – by train, pipeline, and truck”? After Lac Mégantic, the question must be asked, do we need a “full review” to tell us the horror just witnessed in real life?
In the meantime, 350.org et al have yet to mention the approval of Keystone’s phase 3 (March 2012) and the construction that is now completed (to be operational in early 2014). [Forbes, Sept 19, 2013: "With three of the four phases of Keystone in operation or nearly complete, only one section remains."] There is no mention of the consumptive patterns of the West that ensure every drop of oil will find its way to market. 350.org and others campaign strategically and focus on the supply side issues while the demand side is completely ignored.
The Bakken Region
“The battle over pipelines comes as the United States, which imports roughly 1.4 million barrels of crude oil from Alberta every day, is suddenly swamped with its own oil from unconventional sources like the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota. A recent forecast by the International Energy Agency said the U.S. is on track to become the world’s biggest oil producer by 2020, overtaking Saudi Arabia.” — Oil Sands Bust, Macleans, Feb 5, 2013
The anti-Keystone XL campaign “leaders” have ensured that citizens and activists alike will focus almost exclusively on the Keystone pipeline extension, even though it was publicly disclosed, as far back asJanuary 2011, that the majority of the Keystone pipeline was already completed and in operation. If approved, the Keystone XL pipeline will transport 830,000 barrels of Canadian tar sands crude or/and the diluted bitumen (dilbit) from to refineries situated in Port Arthur, Texas, where it will be refined and sold on the global market. Yet omitted is the fact that a large portion of potential oil (approximately 25%) that would flow through the Keystone pipeline would be oil recently discovered (so we are told)in the Bakken shale formation. This formation spans North Dakota and part of Montana– the land of the Lakota Indians. (The same Lakota who are excluded from any meaningful leadership positions/senior advisory roles of the faux environmental groups.) Without the Keystone XL, the only way to get all of the Bakken oil to the refineries is by rail car.
“In another positive sign for the industry, BNSF Railway announced in the first week of September that it plans to expand its crude oil transportation capacity in 2012 to a million barrels per day from the Williston Basin in North Dakota and Montana.” — Sept 18, 2012, Rail Companies in Mad Rush to Meet Demand for Domestic Crude Oil.
Oil production in the Bakken region has more than tripled since 2008. [Source: Bloomberg). A 2013 report by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce suggests that oil production in North America is on track to grow at an “incredible rate” of 800,000 barrels per day, per year, through 2016, with more than 50% of production expected to come from the U.S.
Billions upon billions of dollars are being invested in the Bakken oil field (i.e., tar sands oil) yet citizens will not be advised of this fact anywhere, other than perhaps in the finance section of the Wall Street Journal, or the BNSF website itself.
Increasing U.S. oil production, under the false pretense of “energy independence and self-sufficiency,” lends much ammunition to those opposed to the KXL. It is of little surprise that Buffett is working closely with Obama in the framing of a new “energy independent United States of America” while the same U.S. foundations funding the Stop the KXL! campaign aresimultaneously funding the Apollo Alliance, the Institute for America’s Future and Blue Green Alliance. All while the Obama administration continues to invade, destabilize and occupy sovereign states all over the planet in order to steal/secure Earth’s dwindling natural resources.
Today, BNSF is hauling out the Bakken crude oil from North Dakota and ethanol from Nebraska (announced in2006). All via rail. On October 31, 2012, it was announced that BNSF would purchase the Nebraska Northeastern Railway, a 120-mile line that connects Siouxland Ethanol LLC in Jackson; NEDAK Ethanol in Atkinson; and Husker Ag Inc. in Plainview.
For centuries, talented magicians have absolutely depended upon ardent distraction in order to convince an enthralled audience that what they are seeing is truly real – not simply stealthy sleight of hand. As long as the major players within the non-profit industrial complex are protesting the Keystone XL, and getting paid to do so, the audience fails to consider the tar sands oil fields, Bakken oil fracking, unit oil tank trains, etc. … along with the very root causes of climate change.
“Unit ethanol trains use similar tank cars (in fact, tank cars used in petroleum crude oil service were probably built for the ethanol boom c. 2006) so content of these cars is determined by the haz-mat [hazardous material] placard (red-and-white lopsided square seen at right side of car). This placard displays the number 1267, which denotes “petroleum crude oil.” (Denatured alcohol, or ethanol, uses 1987.)” — March 24, 2012, BNSF Galesburg Yard’s New Tracks are in Service
Video: Fracking: The Dirty Truth in North Dakota | (Running time: 4:36)
Refineries & Further Genocide
“North American energy companies are starting to invest more in railroad terminals than the railroads themselves. A group of oil and natural gas pipeline operators led by Plains All American Pipeline LP (PAA)announced plans just in the past three months to spend about $1 billion on rail depot projects to help move more crude from inland fields to refineries on the coasts. Warren Buffett‘s Burlington Northern Santa Fe LLC, the largest U.S. railroad, spent $400 million on terminals in 2012. For the first time, energy companies that traditionally rented rail capacity are buying the assets because swelling output from Alberta’s oil sands and shale fields in North Dakota’s Bakken region and Eagle Ford in Texas has overwhelmed pipelines.” — Oil Industry Beats Buffett in Railroad Investments Surge: Energy, January 14, 2013 [Disclosed in part I of series]
“Today, the Quinault Indian Nation submitted comments to the City of Hoquiam and Washington Department of Ecology opposing the first of at least three proposed oil shipping facilities that could transform Grays Harbor into an industrial crude oil zone. Westway Terminal Company, based in Louisiana and Texas, seeks authorization for construction of a new oil shipping terminal in Grays Harbor that would give it the capacity to store 800,000 barrels of crude oil at any given time. Westway predicts that it will bring at least ten million barrels of crude oil annually through Grays Harbor, via rail and marine vessels. Two additional facilities for crude-by-rail – amounting to tens of millions of barrels of crude oil annually through Grays Harbor – are also being proposed in the same area, posing major environmental risks to the Grays Harbor community and the Quinault Indian Nation. State and local regulators have decided to allow this proposal to go forward with minimal environmental review…. Crude-by-rail systems are a recent, but booming, phenomenon.” — April 18, 2013, Tribe Opposes Proposal to Turn Grays Harbor into an Industrial Crude Oil Zone
“The boom in North Dakota’s Bakken oil field is speeding to the Northwest, a boon for ports and refineries that could bring in upwards of 200 million barrels of crude each year on mile-plus oil trains. The first oil train arrived last September. Today, all five Washington refineries handle or plan to handle oil trains, called ‘pipelines on wheels’…. BNSF Railway is likely to carry most of those loads. Spokesman Steve Forsberg said BNSF is investing a record $4.1 billion in upgrades nationwide this year.” — May 13, 2013, Oil trains – pipelines on wheels – headed to Northwest terminals and refineries from North Dakota fracking
“In addition, Valero is considering a plan to send light Canadian crude to its Quebec plant by rail, and it is discussing building a rail terminal at its St. Charles refinery in Louisiana to receive heavy Canadian crude…. Tesoro, soon to be California’s biggest refiner when it closes its June 1 purchase of BP’s Southern California refinery, also has launched rail projects to move cheaper crude.” — Rail picks up steam as a way to move crude, May 27, 2013
In 2012, several refineries serving the Northeast faced the threat of shutdown. Today, an influx of cheaper crude oil extracted from Bakken shale rock formations has “saved” most refineries while stabilizing gas prices. Just as fracking opened vast reserves of natural gas over recent years, this same toxic process is now unlocking crude oil trapped in shale deposits. The revival of the East Coast refineries is yet another example of how the ecologically devastating drilling process of hydraulic fracturing/fracking is changing the energy equation for the region, nationand world, thus, tragically keeping North America locked into fossil fuels, growth and an accelerating highway of ecological destruction. Further, as mentioned previously, fracking oil is increasing domestic production so dramatically that the U.S. is projected to surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer by 2017. [Further Reading: Shale Oil Reviving East Coast Refineries]
Another rather unspoken conversation within the Stop the KXL campaign is the (non)discussion surrounding the immense volume of diluent (“dilent eroi”; see below) piped/shipped into the tar sands. Also out of fashion for meaningful discussion is the employment of natural gas. [At present, natural gas is used to heat the excavated sand.] Together, this creates two more sets of environmental hazards while significantly reducing the EROI or energy return on investment ( which is “extremely low, on the order of 5-10%” [compared to] traditional oil recovery”). [Source] [Note that prospects for a nuclear future in relation to the tar sands will be discussed in the next segment of this investigative series.]
Pipelines require dilution of heavy tar sands crude. This requires expensive chemicals to make the crude oil flow more easily.
No doubt seeing an opportunity, Buffett commenced buying BNSF stock in 2006 and continued to buy/increase stockduring the following years. This enabled the railway to start transporting the diluting agents/chemicals necessary to thin the tar sands bitumen from U.S. refineries in the Gulf Coast, California and Kansas to the Canadian border (at Superior, Wisconsin; Noyes, North Dakota; Sweetgrass, Montana; and New Westminster, British Columbia) where the rail tank cars of diluents were/are then transferred to CN rail, and finally, via rail to Edmonton, for shipment to the tar sands.
Industry officials claim that rail tank cars offer the single most important advantage for transporting bitumen: because of its thickness, it must be diluted with other petroleum-based chemicals in order to flow through pipelines. But, as Buffet knows full well and has understood for years, bitumen can be transported in special rail tank cars without dilution.
In November 2008, mere weeks after the Gates/Buffet tar sands expedition in Alberta, Canada, BNSF’s Manager of Business Development stated the following in BNSF’s Railway Magazine: “We’ll continue moving diluents, but there is opportunity to offer rail service as an alternative to pipelines to get the bitumen blend to the refineries,” addingthat for such opportunity to be effective “partnerships with the Canadian railroads” would be necessary.
Thick as Thieves
The rest is now history. In 2010 Buffett bought the rest of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Rail for $44 billionwhile Gates *increased his stake in CN and, by April of 2012, became CN’s single largest shareholder. (*By 2006 approx. $1.4 billion of Gates’ $3.4 billion portfolio was invested exclusively in CN Rail.) Gates and Buffet are considered as “thick as thieves” and often speak to the fact that they consider each other best friends.
On August 13, 2013, Journalstar reported:
“Buffett buys into Canadian tar sands oil company – Berkshire Hathaway Inc. reported a new half-billion-dollar stake in Suncor Energy Inc., which started the Canadian tar sands oil industry, after Chairman Warren Buffett and his deputies spent the most money on stocks in a quarter since 2011. Buffett’s firm owned 17.8 million Suncor shares June 30, a stake valued at more than $500 million in the Calgary-based producer of heavy oil from the Alberta tar sands, according to a federal filing. Suncor is Canada’s largest oil and gas producer. With the Suncor investment, Buffett further injected himself into the debate over tar sands oil and the Keystone XL pipeline, which, if approved, would carry the bitumen condemned by environmentalists.”
McKibben’s Obama Fetish
90 Days, 90 Reasons is an initiative by Dave Eggers and Jordan Kurland who believed that “many of Obama’s voters and donors from 2008 needed to be reminded of all he has accomplished, and all he will do if given another term. They asked a wide range of cultural figures to explain why they’re voting for Obama in 2012, in the hopes that this might re-inspire the grassroots army that got Obama elected in the first place.” Bill McKibben was one such “cultural figure” they approached for an Obama endorsement. McKibben’s endorsement/statement was made approximately 45 days before the 2012 election.
REASON 45: MITT ROMNEY WILL APPROVE THE PROPOSED KEYSTONE PIPELINE.
“A year ago, 1,253 Americans were arrested outside the White House while protesting the proposed Keystone Pipeline, which would run from the tarsands of Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. Liberating that pool of carbon would, in the words of NASA climatologist James Hansen, mean it’s ‘game over’ for the climate. Mitt Romney has promised that, if elected, his first act would be to approve the project. Barack Obama hasn’t said one way or the other what he’d do, which holds out some hope, anyway.” — Bill McKibben, Middlebury, Vermont
In March of 2013, Obama issued an Executive Order to have the southern half of KXL built [New York Times, March 22, 2012: In Oklahoma, Obama Declares Pipeline Support]. To be clear, about six months after Obama expedited the KXL southern half, McKibben publicly stated, in order to promote/endorse him, that Obama had yet to voice an opinion on whether or not he would support the pipeline.
“In March of last year, President Obama stood among KXL pipe produced by workers in Arkansas and famously announced that he was approving the Southern portion of KXL. Extolling the virtues of the pipeline extension for job creation and economic prosperity when he announced, ‘Today, I’m directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority, to go ahead and get it done.’ President Obama not only approved KXL, he issued an executive order to expedite the project….” — Forbes, September 19, 2013
It is not as though progressive green “leaders” have not lied in the public sphere prior to this; such political theatre is the name of the NGO game. Yet, because McKibben has been placed upon a pedestal in the balcony section of the ivory tower, it is important to point out that he clearly lied through his teeth on this one, almost as blatantly as his blatant lie told to Karyn Strickler in an interview on Climate Challenge TV when he pretended to have no idea if his “scruffy little outfit” received funding from the Rockefeller foundations.
I See Humans – But No Humanity
As well-intentioned, albeit naive, citizens join 350.org et al, in the massively financed campaign to “Stop the KeystoneXL!” and “Defend Our Coasts” (this campaign, as discussed in the first installment of this report, is very much led by Rockefeller’s McKibben, focusing on Canadian pipelines and the illusion of “sustainable” tar sands production), CN is already shipping 10,000 barrels of bitumen daily to Gulf terminals and refineries. “The flow of crude oil from the Williston Basin’s Bakken shale field, centered in North Dakota, has confirmed that its transportation by rail is a viable alternative to its movement by pipeline. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that the total takeaway capacity from the Williston Basin grew from about 678,000 barrels a day at the end of 2011 to over 1.1 million barrels a day by the end of 2012. Transportation by rail represented most of this expansion, increasing from an estimated 265,000 barrels a day in 2011 to approximately 660,000 barrels a day in December 2012. The principal beneficiary has been BNSF Railway Co., whose daily volume of crude oil is expected to reach 500,000 barrels moving in eight unit trains by the end of this year.” [Source: Keystone Pipeline is not key to importing Alberta crude oil, August 2013]
In the meantime, as we collectively wave our protest signs at the tree branches while ignoring the root cause, CO2emissions from tar sands production continue to accelerate as the planet passes irreversible tipping points.
Echoing the corporate sentiment “we can do it cheaper” will be easy for the holdings of both Buffet and Gates since corporations continually (and legally) externalize all waste, pollution and ecological damage to citizens, planet and failing ecosystems. CN, BNSF, CP and other transporters of oil will also ignore the fact that the risk of high magnitude derailments is increasing, since corporations spend no more than what is absolutely necessary in order to increase their profits in each and every quarter. The disaster at Lac Mégantic cements this fact. In addition,we must consider the age of many of the existing tracks and the massive weight of the rail tank cars as a factor in any further disasters. Like pipelines leaks and spills, deadly derailments and spills are also disasters waiting to happen – disasters that are absolutely imminent, as we have recently witnessed – and ignored, at our own peril.
With speciesism dominating the collective landscape of human consciousness, consideration for wild animals that will perish as a result of the increased rail traffic appears to be of no concern to capitalists, environmentalists or society as a whole. [“Wild species wandering onto the tracks to their maiming or slaughter [remain] an ongoing problem in both of Canada’s two westernmost provinces, where carnage on the tracks remains a disturbing problem.” Source]
Not to worry, relentless public relations campaigns, branding, green-washing, marketing and intense social engineering (on behalf of the Avaaz Ivy League death squad) will no doubt continue to ease the guilt that sits beneath our collective consciousness. In regard to oil via rail, one can be certain that “National Public Relations” will protect the Enbridge Corporation and ensure damage control when future rail spills incite bitterness and hopelessness in the small communities impacted. Conveniently, CN Rail, Imperial Oil and Encana are also represented by the National Public Relations firm, which is, ironically, the Canadian affiliate to Burson-Marsteller. The irony lies in the fact that Burson-Marsteller is the public relations agency infamous for its cloaking of Union Carbide in Bhopal, Philip-Morris tobacco and the Three Mile Island nuclear accident. [Source]
Isn’t It Ironic
Welcome to the 21st century of philanthropic colonization:
“As Barker notes, the philanthropic colonization of civil society is a clear and present danger to democratic governance, and the first step in countering their insidious influence is for progressive activists to dissociate from their foundations. As Barker admits, creating democratic revenue streams won’t be easy, but it is necessary in order to free ourselves from the corrosive social engineering of liberal elites.” — Jay Taber, Philanthropic Colonization, January 10, 2013
I would like to end this segment (part III) with a taste of delicious irony.
On July 26, 2013, Peter Buffett penned a provocative opinion piece for the New York Times titled The Charitable-Industrial Complex.
“Early on in our philanthropic journey, my wife and I became aware of something I started to call Philanthropic Colonialism….
Inside any important philanthropy meeting, you witness heads of state meeting with investment managers and corporate leaders. All are searching for answers with their right hand to problems that others in the room have created with their left….
“As more lives and communities are destroyed by the system that creates vast amounts of wealth for the few, the more heroic it sounds to ‘give back.’ It’s what I would call ‘conscience laundering’ – feeling better about accumulating more than any one person could possibly need to live on by sprinkling a little around as an act of charity….
“I’m really not calling for an end to capitalism; I’m calling for humanism….
“What we have is a crisis of imagination….
“Albert Einstein said that you cannot solve a problem with the same mind-set that created it. Money should be spent trying out concepts that shatter current structures and systems that have turned much of the world into one vast market. Is progress really Wi-Fi on every street corner? No. It’s when no 13-year-old girl on the planet gets sold for sex. But as long as most folks are patting themselves on the back for charitable acts, we’ve got a perpetual poverty machine. It’s an old story; we really need a new one.”
Yes – an absolute crisis of imagination. Although Buffett recognizes that the complex ensures that the structure of inequality be kept intact, Buffett’s own imagination will not allow him to see outside capitalism … even when he is able to understand and acknowledge many direct results of capitalism. It must be understood that such a call for humanism can only be achieved by dismantling and crushing capitalism. Otherwise, we continue to wade in the blood of our brothers and sisters, all while ecosystems continue to fail and die all around us. Buffett cannot manage to cross the line to stand against capitalism. Like so many others, Buffett simply cannot bring himself to step over. Privilege blinds. Yet, there are honest and important critiques in Buffett’s opinion piece and one can be quite certain that they were not met with open arms by the white saviours who dwell within the complex.
One thing is certain. Peter Buffett is far more honest than Bill McKibben.
“IF ACTIVISTS FAIL TO ADDRESS THE CRUCIAL ISSUE OF LIBERAL PHILANTHROPY NOW THIS WILL NO DOUBT HAVE DIRE CONSEQUENCES FOR THE FUTURE OF PROGRESSIVE ACTIVISM – AND DEMOCRACY MORE GENERALLY – AND IT IS IMPORTANT TO RECOGNISE THAT LIBERAL FOUNDATIONS ARE NOT ALL POWERFUL AND THAT THE FUTURE, AS ALWAYS, LIES IN OUR HANDS AND NOT THEIRS.” — MICHAEL BARKER, DO CAPITALISTS FUND REVOLUTIONS?
 Activists should take note of the information/funding sources, disclosed in far-right Canadian Vivian Krause’s investigative reports/research. (“Vivian Krause is a Vancouver researcher and writer. Her work raises fair questions about the science and the funding of environmental campaigns. During the 1990s, Vivian worked on community health and development in Guatemala and Indonesia. She holds a Bachelor of Science from McGill University and a Masters Degree from l’Université de Montréal. Vivian is also a contributor to The Financial Post.”Source: Huffington Post. From the PowerPoint presentation “Rethinking Environmental Activism Against Canadian Energy.”)
 In the third quarter of 2012, 4,500 tank cars were delivered and the time for an order to be processed and the tank cars to be manufactured has now lengthened to around 15-18 months.
Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, Political Context, Counterpunch, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. You can follow her on twitter: @elleprovocateur