The federal government made it sound like it was the hero saving the Alberta oil patch when, on Dec. 18, it announced a $1.6 billion aid package for struggling oil companies.

Although the funding is being dubbed by many as being a hand-out, it is anything but a freebie.

Much of the money is in the form of loans at commercial interest rates. The gesture may help a few companies, but loan payments that put the companies further into debt when they can’t get there product to market is hardly a helping hand. No, loans are not what’s needed.

Some of the things that are needed would be action on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Purchasing it and condescending words by the federal government are not good enough. Show us the proof that the ball has started to roll on this or their words mean nothing. A good rule of thumb in just about any scenario is to make judgments on one’s actions, not their words. In this case, there has been very little action, so the words of the Prime Minister and his various Ministers ring pretty hollow these days.

Where the voices have been the loudest has been with the so-called environmentalists, and some of them are environmentalists, who have been decrying the seemingly harmful pipeline that is to be laid adjacent to one that has been sitting there for half a century. A lot of people have bought into their pleas, including our federal politicians. But, the whole story has not been revealed. Those protests, particularly in British Columbia, have had a much more sinister objective.

Watching the pipeline protests in British Columbia on TV, one would think that the opposition was all about saving the environment, but that is not the case at all. On the surface, it appears to be about the environment, but dig a little deeper and one can find the connection to groups like the Tides Foundation and Rockefeller Brothers Fund, organizations whose objectives are to shut down the Canadian petroleum industry and build up operations (and profits) south of the border.

And, some of those protesters who were loudly opposing the pipeline were not there as a volunteer for the environmental cause. No, they were bought and paid for by American-based organizations such as the Tides Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, who are hell-bent on keeping oil and gas from the Canada’s prairie provinces landlocked, whereby keeping Canadian prices at bargain basement prices, so they can purchase it cheap and sell it at a premium, all the while advancing their own oil and gas industry.

These efforts against the Canadian oil and gas industry did not just creep into the picture overnight, they’ve been going on for years.

Researcher/writer Vivian Krause has been researching organizations such as the Tides Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and Corporate Ethics for years about their focus on shutting down the Canadian oil patch. She spoke to a packed house in Drayton Valley on Dec. 2 about the ?”Tar Sands Campaign”, which she said has been operating for about 10 years with millions of dollars in funding from American entities, including the Rockefeller's.

In addition, West Coast Environmental Law, the organization that was encouraging B.C. municipalities to sue the Alberta oil industry for damages, has received more than $300,000 from the Tides Foundation since 2012.

The one voice that has been too quiet over the years has been the oil and gas industry itself.

As technology has improved to reduce the environmental impact and when they started investing in research and development into renewable energy, and in alternative energy projects, they should have been educating the public, who may still have the impression that the industry operates as it did in the 1960s and nothing could be further from the truth.

The industry has been diversifying and has been for years. Petroleum companies have been some of the biggest investors in research and development for renewable energy and new technologies for the oil and gas industry in efforts of reducing their environmental footprint. This is nothing new. They’ve been doing this for years, if not decades.

Drilling practices have improved immensely, as has technology for hydraulic fracturing, and pipeline integrity. Reclamation has become a major priority item over the years, but the public has not really been made aware of it until the past few years.

Organizations, such as the Clean Resource Innovation Network have been established to ensure these improvements and advancements are made. The Clean Resource Innovation Network was formed, not by environmental groups, but by the large companies themselves to improve environmental performance surrounding greenhouse gases, land, water, and tailings. The organization, which includes members from the industry, innovators, academia, financiers, and government, has shared more than 900 technologies that have cost more than one billion dollars to develop. Not bad for an industry that some would have you think does not care about the environment.

The petroleum industry is well aware that a transition to clean energy is necessary, but they are not naive enough to believe it can happen overnight. Renewable energy is starting to come online and some individuals, companies, and municipalities have started to make the changes, it is not yet an affordable option for most of us.

In talking with somebody who had solar panels installed at his acreage a few years ago, he pointed out that it would take 12 years to break even, 12 years before his investment would start paying off. Alternative energy, by itself, is not even close to being an affordable option for the Average Joe yet.

The oil and gas companies are well aware of the transition that is coming and they have plans in place, including their investments into renewable energy projects. They also have done the math and know the transition can not and will not happen overnight, but over the next few decades. Now, if only our federal government would understand this.

(Jamie Rieger is the assistant managing editor of Prairie Post East)

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