Pipeline protester fights Kinder Morgan lawsuit

by Stefania Seccia, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER — A Burnaby, B.C. man argued in court on Tuesday that a multi-million-dollar lawsuit filed by Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline is an attempt to stifle democratic activities.

Alan Dutton, a member of Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion and a defendant in the $5.6-million lawsuit seeking damages against the protesters, is refusing to settle out of court.

In B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday, Dutton said the case was an abuse of process and highlighted the need for anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) legislation.

Josh Paterson, the executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said it’s up to the defendant and his counsel to prove that the lawsuit filed by Kinder Morgan was a strategic lawsuit against public participation.

“From our perspective, we’ve said that there needs to be legislation in this province that makes it easier and faster for so-called SLAPP lawsuits to be identified and disposed of,” he said.

Paterson said the province had legislation in place until 2001 that expedited the court’s determination as to whether a case was a SLAPP suit.

The BCCLA is calling on the province to reinstate such legislation.

While B.C. Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton was unavailable for an interview, a ministry spokesperson said the province “is in line with most Canadian jurisdictions which do not provide for what is sometimes described as ‘anti-SLAPP’ legislation.”

“The challenge with such legislation is determining the basis for dismissing a civil claim prior to a hearing on its merits,” the spokesperson wrote in a statement.

The decision on whether a case is legitimate or not is up to the court’s discretion, according to Section 18 of the Supreme Court Act, which outlines general criteria for what constitutes a frivolous claim.

Trans Mountain deferred comment about the court case until it is officially concluded.

The case will be back in court on Wednesday.

How Trans Mountain Project Will Pump Profits to Its Texas Owners



Robyn Allan
U.S.-based Kinder Morgan says its Trans Mountain expansion project represents financial and economic benefit to the Canadian economy, and our federal and provincial public treasuries.

Who would spend a year investigating such claims, rooted as they are in complex tax law, regulations and corporate structure? I did.

What I found made me conclude the opposite — Kinder Morgan drains financial wealth from our economy and does not pay its fair share of taxes.

I have written about the project’s complicated design to yield meagre tax revenues for Canadians in a previous Tyee article.

Now let me examine just how Canadian Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. is. The answer: hardly at all.

Pop the hood and take a look at Kinder Morgan’s inner workings and the idea that this is a Canadian company operating for the good of Canadians is dispelled quicker than Kinder Morgan can say injunction.

If you are bored by arcane discussions of corporate structure and governance, that may be just what Kinder Morgan is hoping.

Please bear with me. It’s critical we know who really runs, and benefits from, Kinder Morgan Canada Inc.

From the boys who brought us Enron

Kinder Morgan Canada is little more than a Canadian face for one of the 50 richest American billionaires, Richard Kinder, and his Houston, Texas, based executive team — many of them the same boys who brought us Enron.

Enron was a U.S. energy giant responsible for one of the biggest accounting frauds in history. According to Robert Roach, U.S. Senate counsel and chief investigator into Enron’s collapse, Enron’s executives began falsely inflating revenues and cheating on taxes way back in 1992 (page 16 Volume 1 of 2). When it became apparent what they were up to, the house of cards imploded. Enron filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Dec. 2, 2001.

It is common knowledge that Richard Kinder — chair and CEO of Kinder Morgan — worked at Enron for 16 years. By the late 1980s he was vice-chairman of Enron’s Board, becoming its president and chief operating officer (COO) in 1990. Kinder was instrumental (see page 109 and 119) in helping establish some pretty creative tax avoidance structured transactions the company became infamous for.

Kinder and his partner William Morgan — another key player at Enron — bought Enron Liquids Pipeline Company from Enron in early 1997. What is not generally understood is Kinder himself set Enron Liquids Pipeline Co. on its path five years before he bought the company. Kinder was a member of Enron Liquids Pipeline Co.’s Board of Directors when the company filed its initial public offering (IPO) with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 1992.

It is also not common knowledge that at least four other key Kinder Morgan executives employed in senior positions today are Enron alumni. Three of them were with Enron when it went under and the SEC eventually brought one before the U.S. District Court on fraud charges.

Current Kinder Morgan elite who held senior positions at Enron include Steven J. Kean, Kinder Morgan’s president and COO. Kean was Enron’s executive vice-president and chief of staff in charge of human resources, government affairs, public relations, corporate communication and administration when the company filed for bankruptcy. From 1997 to 1999 he was Enron’s senior vice-president of government affairs. Kean spent 12 years at Enron — he started with the energy giant in 1989. What’s strange is that Kean’s corporate bio on Kinder Morgan’s site makes no mention of the dozen years Kean spent at Enron.

Kean must be clever. While executive vice-president at Enron he sold (page 53) more than $5.1 million in Enron stock including more than 60,000 shares on Jan. 31, 2001. The highest price Enron shares reached was $90.75 in August 2001. A year after Kean sold more than 60,000 shares at $80 each, Enron’s stock closed at 42 cents a share.

Jordan H. Mintz is Kinder Morgan’s chief tax officer and a member of the board of various Canadian Kinder Morgan subsidiaries. Mintz was the vice-president of Enron’s tax division from 1996-2000 and became general counsel for Enron Global Financial in October 2000. He joined Kinder Morgan in 2006. The U.S. government’s Securities and Exchange Commission sued Mintz in 2007 for violating anti-fraud laws, aiding and abetting Enron’s violations of anti-fraud and periodic reporting provisions, and lying to auditors while he was general counsel.

In January 2009 the SEC settled its lawsuit against Mintz — he paid a civil penalty and was suspended from practicing as a lawyer before the SEC for two years.

Two other senior Kinder Morgan executives are Enron alumni — Dax Sanders, now Kinder Morgan’s vice-president of corporate development and David P. Michels, Kinder Morgan’s vice-president of finance and investor relations. Both were hired into Enron’s Analysts and Associates Program — Enron’s boot camp that fed aggressive university grads into Enron’s work force at mid-level positions where they would rotate through different corporate divisions within Enron. Analysts and Associates learned how to structure complex deals, obtain financing, work the trading floor and generally became steeped in Enron’s corporate culture.

A pocket full of radicals

Dividend growth is key to Kinder Morgan’s stock price, but dividend growth needs revenue growth. This is why Trans Mountain’s new pipeline is so important to Kinder Morgan. The company plans to triple pipeline capacity while siphoning away more than five times the financial return. Kinder Morgan predicts (page 3) $850 million a year in cash flowing out of the Canadian economy to U.S.-based shareholders when Trans Mountain’s expansion becomes operational.

Trans Mountain’s expansion is the biggest single project on Kinder Morgan’s capital expenditure back log. It represents more than 30 per cent of planned expenditures. Without Trans Mountain, Kinder Morgan’s financial prospects severely diminish. Kinder Morgan won’t back down from Trans Mountain’s expansion without a tough fight and they will never give the impression they aren’t winning. Their stock price can’t afford it.

This may be why former Enron employee and Kinder Morgan vice-president of corporate development Dax Sanders characterized the Trans Mountain Expansion project as a done deal. He was speaking at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Energy Conference in Miami on Nov. 14, 2014.

Sanders assured (minute 25) his audience that Kinder Morgan is “very optimistic” about the pipeline and that the company is “expecting the NEB authorization… the federal government is enormously supportive of it… the real opposition is some of the few pockets of the more radical views in the lower mainland; in Burnaby and Vancouver.”

It hard to understand how Sanders can characterize a majority of British Columbians opposed to Kinder Morgan’s twinning — including the mayors and municipal representatives of Vancouver, Burnaby and the entire North Shore — as a “few pockets of the more radical views.”

All roads lead to Houston

All Kinder Morgan’s big decisions are made in Houston. Whether it’s in-house legal, human resources, project financing, information technology, communications, audit, tax planning, insurance — the orders come from Texan deal makers.

Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. is an operating arm of the U.S. multinational. Its president, Ian Anderson — who many of us recognize from TV ads — has two people directly reporting to him aside from an executive assistant: a vice-president of operations and engineering, and a vice-president of regulatory affairs and finance. All other corporate functions report to Houston.

On operating matters, Anderson himself reports to Steven Kean. When he files stock trading statements with the U.S. SEC, Anderson identifies himself as a Kinder Morgan Inc. vice-president.

This is where the complex corporate structure begins to come into the picture and helps reveal Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. as more of a mask than a face. Kinder Morgan Canada Inc., registered in Alberta, does not own the Trans Mountain Pipeline system, nor does it own any pipeline, storage, terminal or other assets.

Corporate structure

As shown by the Corporate Structure Chart I’ve prepared to accompany this article, Trans Mountain’s system is owned by corporate entities that feed from Trans Mountain Pipeline LP registered in Alberta, through a myriad of entities.

Click to enlarge (some browsers may require a second click to further enlarge image). Kinder Morgan corporate chart prepared by Robyn Allan. Graphic design by Karl Jensen.

Some of these are ULCs. ULC stands for Unlimited Liability Company. These unique entities only exist in Nova Scotia, Alberta and B.C. They can offer tax minimization opportunities to U.S. parent companies because of their special treatment under the U.S.-Canada Income Tax Treaty.

Trans Mountain Pipeline LP feeds into entities including Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC registered in Alberta, onto Kinder Morgan Canada Company ULC registered in Nova Scotia.

Then we cross the border and into Texas with Kinder Morgan Operating LP “A,” to Kinder Morgan Energy Partners Ltd., to Kinder Morgan GP Inc. to undisclosed entities and onto Kinder Morgan Inc. All U.S. entities are registered in Delaware because of lax laws, but their head office is in Houston, Texas.

The only corporate shares Trans Mountain’s operator Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. owns is its 25 per cent interest in Western Canadian Spill Services Ltd. (WCSS), a terrestrial spill preparedness and response organization that books profits because oil spills can, and do, happen. WCSS’ other shareholders are Enbridge Pipelines Inc., the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) and the Explorers and Producers Association of Canada.

Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. operates more than Trans Mountain. It also operates the Puget Sound and Trans Mountain Jet Fuel pipelines, Westridge marine terminal, Vancouver Wharves and the North Forty terminal. Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. plays a minor role with the Cochin condensate import pipeline because Kinder Morgan product pipelines group out of Houston, Texas — Kinder Morgan Operating LP “D” — is responsible for operating the actual Cochin system.

The flow of funds gushing away from the Canadian economy takes a slightly different route than the rights over ownership of assets. But the difference is significant — it helps directors and officers as well as the corporate entity itself avoid liability, and assists in minimizing taxes. Companies bother with complex and sophisticated corporate structures because they pay. Whether or not the structure is outside the spirit of the law or represents tax evasion is a matter for the Canada Revenue Agency to investigate and determine.

Limited Partnership unit holders do not have any say in the day-to-day running of a business if they want to protect their limits of liability to what they have invested in the Limited Partnership. This is one reason why, for example, Trans Mountain Pipeline LP would send 99.99 per cent of its partnership unit based financial returns to Kinder Morgan Cochin ULC, but only 0.01 per cent to its general partner, Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC.

The funds then flow to Kinder Morgan Canada Co. — a ULC registered in Nova Scotia and a little bit to Kinder Morgan Terminals Canada — a ULC registered in Alberta. A simpler, more direct and less lucrative route would be to have Trans Mountain as a wholly owned company of Kinder Morgan Inc. in the U.S.

Understanding the corporate structure helps us see how millions of dollars a year generated from Kinder Morgan’s Canadian activities can be repatriated to the U.S. with very little Canadian tax obligation. According to Kinder Morgan, over the past five years for Trans Mountain alone, an average of $172 million a year flows to the U.S. with an annual average tax burden of $1.5 million a year — Trans Mountain received a cash tax refund in two of them.

It is not only distributable cash flow that Kinder Morgan Inc. in the U.S. siphons from the Canadian economy. The Houston based parent charges Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. for corporate services such as in-house legal, human resources, tax advice, auditing, information technology, procurement and insurance.

As well, Kinder Morgan Inc. — the 100 per cent indirect parent of Trans Mountain — is the sole-source financing for all Kinder Morgan activities in Canada. This means interest and fees related to project financing flow to Houston. This effectively removes an opportunity for our financial sector, and Canadian investors, to participate domestically and directly in these federally regulated transportation systems, including the $5.4 billion expansion project.

As the Corporate Structure Chart shows, Trans Mountain’s pipeline system begins as a limited partnership with 0.01 per cent of its units owned by its general partner Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC and 99.99 per cent of its units owned by Kinder Morgan Cochin ULC — the company that owns the Cochin pipeline system.

Recall that ULC stands for Unlimited Liability Company, and that these unique entities, existing only in Nova Scotia, Alberta and B.C., can diminish taxes to U.S. parent companies because of their special treatment under the U.S.-Canada Income Tax Treaty.

Kinder Morgan Cochin ULC imports condensate into Alberta to mix with bitumen so it can be exported back out as diluted bitumen. Cochin used to export propane from Canada until mid-2014. Condensate production and shipment from the U.S. is a Kinder Morgan profit centre.

Trans Mountain’s expansion means every barrel of diluted bitumen exported from Kinder Morgan’s Westridge marine terminal in Burnaby will include 30 per cent condensate imported from the U.S. Trans Mountain’s expansion is not the “made-in-Canada” crude oil export opportunity as is being pitched by Kinder Morgan. What’s more, co-mingling financial returns from Trans Mountain with Cochin’s net results can represent further financial opportunities to Kinder Morgan.

The Corporate Structure Chart higher in this article shows that after Kinder Morgan Cochin ULC has absorbed its returns from Trans Mountain with its operation of the condensate import line and returns from its partnership units in Kinder Morgan Canada Terminal LP, 99.93 per cent of distributable funds flow from Kinder Morgan Cochin ULC to Kinder Morgan Canada Company ULC and 0.37 per cent to KM Canada Terminals ULC.

Kinder Morgan Canada Company is a ULC registered in Nova Scotia with all but two of its directors and officers based in Houston. Mintz is the vice-president and chief tax officer of Kinder Morgan Canada Co. ULC.

Kinder Morgan Canada Co. is a company on paper. It is 100 per cent owned indirectly by Kinder Morgan Inc. through two disclosed and at least one or more undisclosed entities. Kinder Morgan Inc. purchased its 100 per cent ownership in all the Canadian entities as part of its $76 billion acquisition on Nov. 26, 2014. The purchase allows Kinder Morgan Inc. to legally inflate the value of the purchased assets to achieve significant tax write-offs — $20 billion over 14 years turning Kinder Morgan Inc. into a tax shelter according to Rich Kinder.

As part of my right as a qualified expert intervenor at the Trans Mountain expansion project, reviewed and regulated by the National Energy Board, I asked Kinder Morgan to provide a complete corporate structure and reconcile its public claims regarding its financial and tax contribution to the Canadian economy contradicted by its reports to investor analysts in the U.S. Kinder Morgan refused arguing that the request was outside the scope of the public interest review. The National Energy Board sided with Kinder Morgan.

Kinder Morgan’s unwillingness to be transparent and accountable is frustrating. The complicity in this by Canada’s regulatory agency — the National Energy Board — is in my view tragic.

The corporate structure illustrated in the chart accompanying this article is based on a selected rendering submitted to the National Energy Board by Kinder Morgan and independent research I have conducted which relies on numerous outside publicly available sources including federal and provincial corporate registries. Best efforts have been made to be accurate. It should be noted that Kinder Morgan has more than 250 individual corporate entities with as many as 20 registered in Canada — six of them ULCs. The corporate structure provided here focuses on the Trans Mountain system and its related entities.

The Trans Mountain expansion project is a project fronted by a very Canadian sounding Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. when it’s actually driven by Richard Kinder and his executive team in Houston, Texas, many of them ex-Enron employees. Their interests are not our interests.

Canadians are being asked to decide whether a three-fold expansion of Trans Mountain’s pipeline capacity is in our economic interests. At the very least we deserve to know who is running the show, how decisions are made, who gets the money and where it’s going.

Let me repeat. There is nothing I have found in the past year of my research into Kinder Morgan that supports the claim that the Trans Mountain expansion project represents a net financial or economic benefit to the Canadian economy, or federal and provincial public treasuries. It’s just the opposite — Kinder Morgan drains financial wealth from our economy and does not pay its fair share of taxes.

Read more: Energy, Labour + Industry,

Robyn Allan is an economist, former president and CEO of ICBC and qualified expert intervenor at the National Energy Board hearing into whether the Trans Mountain Expansion project is in the public interest of Canada. Find her previous articles for The Tyee here.

Industry Minister Moore makes stuff up to threaten British Columbians

Robyn Allan
He threatened a Lac Megantic disaster if we don’t accept Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Industry Minister James Moore who represents the Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam riding engaged in blatantly false fear mongering last week. He threatened a Lac Megantic disaster if we don’t accept Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. In order to springboard from a disgusting reliance on a horrific tragedy to reach his ridiculous conclusion, he had to make stuff up.

These are desperate tactics from someone who as an elected Member of Parliament and Minister of the Crown should know better. He said, “The people of Lac Mégantic wished they had pipelines instead of rail.” If Mr. Moore and his Tory government colleagues had done their job, Lac Megantic would not have happened.

Instead of acting responsibly, Mr. Moore follows up his toxic logic with a distasteful chaser. “It’s very dangerous for the Lower Mainland … to have the massive spike in rail transfer of dangerous goods,” he said. Moore is reported to have pointed to the huge rail yard in the heart of Port Coquitlam claiming an increasing number of trains are arriving there carrying diluted bitumen crude that has no other way to get to foreign markets.

That’s just not true. There are no facilities on the west coast to transfer crude oil from tank cars to marine shipping vessels. CP spokesperson Jeremy Berry confirmed, “CP does not ship oil along its line to Vancouver for export”.

Mark Hallman, CN’s director of communications and public affairs explained by email that, “CN has never transported crude oil or diluted bitumen to any British Columbia port or terminal for export via ocean-going vessel, and has no plans to do so.”

As for the so-called “massive spike in rail transfer of dangerous goods” there is neither a massive transfer or a spike. Transport Canada figures of about 5,000 barrels a day relied on by Mr. Moore date back to 2013. CP confirms that, “2014 numbers are lower than 2013.” It is interesting that Mr. Moore would not use recent figures—maybe because they don’t support his false narrative.

Both the Vancouver Sun and Financial Post printed the grossly misleading story (same article different title).

Mr. Moore is quoted as following up his falsehood about a massive spike in rail transfer with “The people of Port Coquitlam and Burnaby and New Westminster, with dangerous goods going on those rail lines, should be concerned about that.”

If Mr. Moore is concerned about rail transport, he should do everything he can to stop crude transport until its safe, not blackmail Canadians with incineration if we don’t accept pipeline projects.

The truth is it is the Harper government’s unrelenting willingness to cheerlead on behalf of Alberta’s tar sands that is putting us at risk and failing the Canadian economy—including the economic health of our fossil fuel industry.

The Chevron refinery in Burnaby imports a small amount of crude by rail. Chevron began rail-to-truck-to-refinery deliveries in May 2012 and rail-to-refinery deliveries in April 2013 because Chevron couldn’t get enough space on the existing Trans Mountain pipeline—exports took priority over domestic needs.

Crowding out domestic demand is why the relatively small volumes of crude by rail to BC have increased since 2011, not because diluted bitumen is seeking foreign markets. But even if Chevron could export all the crude oil it can now receive by rail, it would take more than two months for them to fill an oil tanker. Mr. Moore’s “heavy oil exports to foreign markets” spin doesn’t even make business sense.

Our safety is not threatened by rail transport of heavy oil. Our safety is threatened by the Federal Government’s de-regulation of transport safety. Since 2010 marine safety budgets have been slashed 28% and rail and aviation by more than 20%. Had Transport Canada done its job regulating the rail industry Lac Megantic would not have happened.

Our safety is also threatened by the Harper government’s unwillingness to ensure Canadian energy self sufficiency. The oil transported to Lac Megantic on that fateful night in July 2013 was Bakken crude—a highly flammable light oil imported from New Town, North Dakota destined for the Irving refinery in New Brunswick. More than 40% of the crude oil used in eastern Canada is imported. The public policy answer is to ensure more bitumen is upgraded in Alberta—what Harper promised would happen in 2008 before foreign multinational interests made him change his mind—not build more pipelines.

Oil sands bitumen is dense like tar or wet cement. It requires imported condensate as diluent to move it through a pipeline. If more bitumen were upgraded in Alberta instead of transported as diluted bitumen for upgrading in other countries we would have plenty of pipeline space.

Barrel for barrel, diluted bitumen requires twice as much pipeline capacity as upgraded bitumen. You need dedicated condensate import pipelines, like Enbridge’s Southern Lights and Kinder Morgan’s Cochin, to bring condensate in, and then you need 30% of the heavy oil pipeline export capacity to re-export condensate as diluent in bitumen. What’s more, diluted bitumen moves 20% slower than light or synthetic crude oil.

Transporting diluted bitumen, even by pipeline, unnecessarily exposes Canadians to a condensate spill. Condensate becomes airborne when released. It’s highly toxic and causes severe respiratory damage. Rail transport of heavy oil requires little or no condensate because oil in rail cars is stationary—the cars move, not the heavy oil.

Mr. Moore was elected to protect his constituent’s interests, not mislead them with erroneous statements and distastefully false arguments. Instead of busying himself inventing boogie men as a front for big oil he should protect the safety and business interests of Canadians—while he still has time.

Robyn Allan is an economist, former president and CEO of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia and qualified expert intervenor in the NEB Trans Mountain Expansion Project Hearings.

Building Social Movements: Lessons we need to learn

Pablo Iglesias
Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias on radical politics and what it takes to build mass movements.

Spain’s newest political party is also its most popular. With roots in the 2011 indignados movement (also called the 15-M movement), Podemos emerged in January with a petition launched by a few dozen intellectuals. In May’s European Parliament elections, just months after its formation, the leftist party captured 8 percent of the vote. It is now the second largest political party in Spain by membership and the largest in the polls. Even the Financial Times admits, “the new party appears to be on course to shatter Spain’s established two-party system.”

At a meeting held early this year in Valladolid, Spain, Podemos General Secretary Pablo Iglesias offered his thoughts on how the Left can win. Below is an excerpt from that talk. The transcript and translation were prepared for Jacobin by Enrique Diaz-Alvarez.

I know very well that the key to understanding the history of the past five hundred years is the emergence of specific social categories, called “classes.” And I am going to tell you an anecdote. When the 15-M movement first started, at the Puerta del Sol, some students from my department, the department of political science, very political students — they had read Marx, they had read Lenin — they participated for the first time in their lives with normal people.

They despaired: “They don’t understand anything! We tell them, you are a worker, even if you don’t know it!” People would look at them as if they were from another planet. And the students went home very depressed, saying, “They don’t understand anything.”

[I’d reply to them], “Can’t you see that the problem is you? That politics has nothing to do with being right, that politics is about succeeding?” One can have the best analysis, understand the keys to political developments since the sixteenth century, know that historical materialism is the key to understanding social processes. And what are you going to do — scream that to people? “You are workers and you don’t even know it!”

The enemy wants nothing more than to laugh at you. You can wear a t-shirt with the hammer and sickle. You can even carry a huge flag, and then go back home with your flag, all while the enemy laughs at you. Because the people, the workers, they prefer the enemy to you. They believe him. They understand him when he speaks. They don’t understand you. And maybe you are right! Maybe you can ask your children to write that on your tombstone: “He was always right — but no one ever knew.”

When you study successful transformational movements, you see that the key to success is to establish a certain identity between your analysis and what the majority feels. And that is very hard. It implies riding out contradictions.

Do you think I have any ideological problem with a forty-eight hour or a seventy-two-hour wildcat strike? Not in the least! The problem is that organizing a strike has nothing to do with how badly you or I want to do it. It has to do with union strength, and both you and I are insignificant there.

You and I may wish that earth were a paradise for all mankind. We can wish whatever we want, and put it on a t-shirt. But politics is about strength, it is not about wishes or what we say in assemblies. In this country there are only two unions with the ability to organize a general strike: the CCOO and the UGT. Do I like that? No. But it is what it is, and organizing a general strike is very difficult.

I’ve manned the picket lines in front of the bus depots in Madrid. The people there, at dawn, you know where they had to go? To work. They were no scabs. But they would be fired from their jobs, because at their jobs there were no unions to defend them. Because the workers who can defend themselves, like those in the shipyards, in the mines, they have strong unions. But the kids that work as telemarketers, or at pizza joints, or the girls working in retail, they cannot defend themselves.

They are going to be canned the day after the strike, and you are not going to be there, and I am not going to be there, and no union is going to be there guaranteeing them that they’re going to sit down with the boss and tell him: you’d better not fire this person for exercising their right to strike, because you are going to pay a price for it. That doesn’t happen, no matter how enthusiastic we may be.

Politics is not what you or I would like it to be. It is what it is, and it is terrible. Terrible. And that’s why we must talk about popular unity, and be humble. Sometimes you have to talk to people who don’t like your language, with whom the concepts you use to explain don’t resonate. What does that tell us? That we have been defeated for many years. Losing all the time implies just that: that people’s “common sense” is different [from what we think is right]. But that is not news. Revolutionaries have always known that. The key is to succeed in making “common sense” go in a direction of change.

César Rendueles, a very smart guy, says most people are against capitalism, and they don’t know it. Most people defend feminism and they haven’t read Judith Butler or Simone de Beauvoir. Whenever you see a father doing the dishes or playing with his daughter, or a grandfather teaching his grandkid to share his toys, there is more social transformation in that than in all the red flags you can bring to a demonstration. And if we fail to understand that those things can serve as unifiers, they will keep laughing at us.

That’s how the enemy wants us. He want us small, speaking a language no one understands, in a minority, hiding behind our traditional symbols. He is delighted with that, because he knows that as long as we are like that, we are not dangerous.

We can have a really radical discourse, say we want to do a general wildcat strike, talk about the people in arms, brandish symbols, carry portraits of the great revolutionaries to our demonstrations — they are delighted with that! They laugh at us. However, when you gather together hundreds, thousands of people, when you start convincing the majority, even those who voted for the enemy — that’s when they start to be afraid. And that is called “politics.” That is what we need to learn.

There was a fellow here who talked about the Soviets in 1905. There was that bald guy – a genius. He understood the concrete analysis of a concrete situation. In a time of war, in 1917, when the regime had crashed in Russia, he said a very simple thing to the Russians, whether they were soldiers, peasants, or workers. He said: “bread and peace.”

And when he said “bread and peace,” which is what everyone wanted — for the war to be over and to have enough to eat — many Russians who had no idea whether they were “left” or “right,” but did know that they were hungry, they said: “The bald guy is right.” And the bald guy did very well. He didn’t talk to the Russians about “dialectical materialism,” he talked to them about “bread and peace.” And that is one of the main lessons of the twentieth century.

Trying to transform society by mimicking history, mimicking symbols, is ridiculous. There is no repeating other countries’ experiences, past historical events. The key is to analyze processes, history’s lessons. And to understand that at each point in time, “bread and peace,” if it is not connected to what people think and feel, is just repeating, as farce, a tragic victory from the past.

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News story of the year: Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline expansion

If there’s one fight that captured our readers’ attention this year, it was the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion and the city’s battle with the company on Burnaby Mountain.

Local opposition to the proposed pipeline has been fierce, with pipeline opponents raising concerns about oil spills, tanker traffic and climate change.

It’s no secret Mayor Derek Corrigan and council are against the pipeline expansion anywhere in Burnaby, but when Kinder Morgan started survey work for a proposed pipeline route through a city-owned conservation area, Burnaby fired back with stop work orders and fines for violating a local bylaw that prohibits cutting trees in public parks.

Kinder Morgan then went to the National Energy Board, which issued an order directing the city to back off. That’s when hundreds of residents from Burnaby and beyond descended on the mountain. When Kinder Morgan showed up for work, protesters drove their contractors away, some shouting foul language, and one young chap chained himself to the underside of a work vehicle.

This time, Kinder Morgan went to the B.C. Supreme Court, asking for an injunction. The company’s lawyers were arguing that people’s facial expressions constituted assault, and although there may be legal merit to that argument, the public found it absurd. People posted selfies of their menacing “Kinder Morgan faces” on social media, and the #KMFace Internet meme went viral.

On Nov. 14, the court gave Kinder Morgan its injunction, ordering protesters to stay away or risk arrest. Police arrived on the mountain in larger numbers on Nov. 20, sealed off Centennial Way and set up a no-go zone around Kinder Morgan’s work areas. But that didn’t stop hundreds from gathering on the mountain for what would become a 10-day standoff. In all, 126 people crossed the injunction line, including two 11-year-old girls. The girls were not arrested; they were simply detained and released, but that sparked another controversy over whether their parents should have them cross and adults in general should take their kids to protests. Even Premier Christy Clark chimed in, criticizing the parents for letting their kids break the law, while her detractors quickly pointed out how she ran a stop sign with her kid and a reporter in the car.

Other high-profile appearances on Burnaby Mountain included David Suzuki, who admonished the RCMP for allegedly pulling his grandson across police lines so he could be arrested. Many Burnaby residents were arrested for violating the injunction, including Ruth Walmsley and Peter Cech, father of one of the 11-year-old girls. Both adults are members of Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion. SFU professor Lynne Quarmby was also arrested.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs also crossed the injunction line on Nov. 27. Dressed in a suit, with red face paint, the First Nations leader stood facing police at the injunction line in the woods, in the thick of a drumming and singing crowd. Phillip slipped under the police tape, and RCMP respectfully took him into custody.

Later that day, news broke that a B.C. Supreme Court threw out all civil contempt charges against the protesters, because Kinder Morgan screwed up the GPS coordinates, which meant no one really knew where the injunction areas were. Protesters followed up with more celebratory gatherings on the mountain.

The Battle on Burnaby Mountain has all the hallmarks of a classic David and Goliath tale, but the central issue is whether a federally appointed body, like the NEB, can override a city’s bylaws. It’s something the courts have yet to rule on, and the city is still pursuing legal action to defend its bylaws. The NEB Act already allows companies like Kinder Morgan to conduct survey work and build pipelines on Crown land and private property without the landowners’ permission, but never before has a city come up against the NEB the way Burnaby has, meaning any court decisions on the matter will be precedent setting and could have implications for other municipalities across the country.

The mayor is spot on when he says this is just Phase 1 of a very long war. We are certain Kinder Morgan will dominate the headlines for 2015 and years to come. If something as simple as survey work led to a 10-day standoff with police and protesters, one can only imagine what will happen if Kinder Morgan actually starts building the pipeline.

© Burnaby Now – See more at: http://www.burnabynow.com/news/news-story-of-the-year-kinder-morgan-s-proposed-pipeline-expansion-1.1698711#sthash.CXbYWkts.dpuf

Newsmaker of the Year: Pipeline expansion dominates the headlines

Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion proposal made headlines in a big way in 2014, culminating in two weeks of protests in November that dominated the Twittersphere.

The project, to almost triple capacity on the Trans Mountain pipeline between Edmonton and Burnaby to export oil sands crude to overseas markets, has been in the news for the last couple of years.

But 2014 was the year when people had a chance to apply to participate as intervenors. The National Energy Board (NEB) accepted 400 as being directly affected while many others were turned down. It was also when Kinder Morgan decided it preferred routing the pipeline in a tunnel through Burnaby Mountain itself, causing the NEB to extend the review process.

It was the year when both the company and City of Burnaby waged a legal battle, with the city attempting to stop survey and geotechnical study work in Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area after several trees were felled.

And when the NEB granted the company an order preventing Burnaby from interfering, and the courts granted an injunction to keep protesters away from the work site, that’s when protesters actively took to the mountain.

About 100 protesters defied the injunction, and were arrested for civil contempt last month, only to have the charges thrown out after the company admitted it inadvertently provided the wrong GPS coordinates for the area that was off-limits.

But for Lindsay Meredith, Simon Fraser University marketing professor, the pipeline story was a classic case study in what companies ought not do.

Resource companies and businesses who sell to other businesses, have been slow to realize the game has changed now that the Internet and social media have leveled the playing field, Meredith said. “Corporations ignore this stuff at their peril.”

In the past, such companies were involved in one-way communications, “which was government and big corporations talking to the rest of the peons.” It used to be “nobody else could do it when you had to cough up a couple million dollars on an ad campaign, but anybody can put up a website and anybody can get on a social network site.”

As a result, small groups with small budgets “very quickly become very, very accomplished marketers.” They’ve become adept at getting out their messages highlighting the negative attributes of a project such as the Trans Mountain pipeline project.

Meredith specifically cited First Nations groups and environmentalists as becoming “extremely accomplished” at this game.

“Guys like Kinder Morgan are running smack into the old glass plate wall and getting their nose smashed in. And they’re in shock, they can’t figure out what the hell happened. Now they’re starting to catch on very quickly.”

In recent months, Kinder Morgan, Enbridge, and other energy-related companies have been “advertising like hell,” all trying to position themselves as being part of the community.

“They’re all trying to basically play the same game, which is grassroots consumerism, trying to get back down to that level to try and gain a toehold to counter this negative attribution because the environmentalists and the natives are cleaning their clocks.”

All that advertising is an expensive way to try and get people on side, but they have the means and the stakes are high.

When social media sites get critical mass, generating lots of attention, mass media start to take notice, Meredith explained. The mass media then draw even more attention to such smaller groups, creating even more critical mass at the grassroots level and in turn generating even more media coverage.

Everyone is trying to influence that silent majority that rarely gets the attention that the squeaky wheels do. And once public sentiment goes one way, “that scares the hell out of the politicians,” he said. Political stakeholders then influence government regulatory bodies, and in one scenario, a project can be rejected.

With the next federal election scheduled to take place in 2015, before the NEB is slated to make a decision on the pipeline application, there will continue to be a push to influence public opinion before voters go to the polls.

“Kinder Morgan should’ve seen this one coming more and got much more active before the protests ever got off the ground.”

Meredith noted if your company has had bad publicity in the past, “it will come back and haunt you.”

He believes that’s the case with Kinder Morgan whose pipeline was ruptured by a backhoe in 2007, showering the Westridge neighbourhood in crude oil. The Transportation Safety Board concluded the incident was due to outdated pipeline maps, exacerbated when the company responded to the spill by turning off the flow of oil at the tanker ship it was loading, not at the source.

Why the company would choose to involve the same neighbourhood in its expansion plan is a head scratcher, said Meredith.

“There are so many signals, hey boys, give your head a shake, you’ve got a problem here. That is what I like to put so delicately—that’s what you get, serves you bloody right when you let a bunch of engineers run things.”

Meredith suggested it would have made more sense, at least from a marketing point of view, to route the pipeline down to Delta, through farmers’ fields, “and put a great big nice deep-water offloading oil port and keep those tankers way down there, way out of sight.

“Instead, let’s choose the difficult ground. Go over an area in North Burnaby where we already pissed off the locals. Get a whole bunch of freighters coming through a narrow gap and getting [Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, both outspoken opponents of the project] worked up and then start saying, ‘OK, gee I wonder why people kinda hate us?’ ” he said.

“Not in my marketing class.”


Falling Oil Prices Could Rock Canada’s Politics: Expert

What do the plummeting oil prices tell us not only about our near term economic future in Canada, but the political fragility of the world’s petro states?

If Canada fully joins the petro state club, as our prime minister and his party desire, is oil’s volatility just the cost of doing business, or a threat to our nation’s well-being?

The ideal person to ask is Terry Lynn Karl, one of North America’s foremost experts on the politics of oil. The Tyee recently caught up with Karl, who teaches at Stanford University and lives in San Francisco.

Asked in a wide ranging interview what Canadians might expect if oil prices stay low for a few years, she predicted “a rapidly declining Canadian dollar, greater problems over pipelines, the reduction of future investments, and a very bumpy oil ride, especially for Alberta.

“Any adverse effect low oil prices will have on Canada’s high cost oil industry will have a multiplier effect on the economy and polity. Government services will be cut back, house sales will decline, and banking will slow down. Canadians will not be so happy with their government.”

‘The Paradox of Plenty’: a classic

How oil shapes the relationship between citizens and their governments has been the focus of Karl’s work since 1976, when she journeyed to Venezuela as a young doctoral candidate. The researcher wanted to find and interview the founder of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Juan Pablo Perez Alfonzo.

But Perez Alfonzo, a testy fellow, wanted nothing to do with this academic inquiry.

Then he relented. Karl even stayed with his family for two days.

Her visit corresponded with the first huge increase in oil prices — the days of “Venezuela Saudita” — when petrodollars poured into the country, and Venezuelans partied as never before. But Don Juan Pablo (as she called him), one of Latin America’s first conservationists, was not celebrating.

“You are such a smart girl,” OPEC’s founder remarked as he closed the interview. “Why study OPEC? It’s so boring?”

“Don Juan Pablo, what would you suggest I study?” Karl wondered aloud.

“Study what oil is doing to us,” he said. “Eventually, oil will bring us ruin. We are drowning in the devil’s excrement.”

Since then, Karl has studied the impact of oil revenue on oil-exporting states. Her seminal book, The Paradox of Plenty, remains a classic on how the world’s most capital-intensive industry corrodes the economy, politics, and culture of most oil exporting states in much the same way gold undid King Midas.

Karl even coined the term “petro state.” She developed her thinking from the so-called staple theory of Canadian historian Harold Innis. “I was excited to read his work. Everyone at the time thought having oil meant certain and progressive development. But they had not read Innis, the Iranian Mahdavy or the great economist Albert Hirschman who wrote about how commodities shape development — for good and bad.”

Petro states aren’t like other states for several reasons, says Karl.

For starters, their dependence on oil profits breaks the necessary link between taxation and representation. Instead of extracting state funds from citizens, wealth magically comes from the ground. This makes governments unaccountable; it means that people don’t demand to see how money is spent.

And oil governments, in turn, tend to treat their citizens like subjects, either paying them off or, when necessary, repressing them. Wedded to boom and bust cycles, oil-dependent regimes are either overspending to keep themselves in power or accruing debt to mask problems with seemingly no ability for fiscal reform.

Oil and highly centralized rule go together. Oil wealth permits governments to dismantle accountability mechanisms, weaken bureaucracies and undermine the rule of law.

Karl further found that although petro states appear strong, and some governments last for long periods of time, these oil infused regimes are highly vulnerable. When they collapse, they fall apart very quickly. Neither autocracies nor democracies are immune.

Petro-fueled environmental damage, violence and civil war often dominate oil-producing regions. In this respect, Karl sees resonance in Perez Alfonzo’s words: oil is indeed the devil’s excrement.

In her conversation with The Tyee, Karl commented on falling oil prices, climate change, vulnerable petro states, aboriginal resistance to oil, the commodity’s increasing volatility, and whether or not Canada is a petro state.

Tyee: How will falling oil prices affect global politics and the stability of some petro states?

Karl: “The effects of falling oil prices will be quickly felt in Venezuela, which is extremely vulnerable. If oil keeps dropping, the country’s employment, standard of living and GDP will be affected. This tends to make people not like their government.

“Venezuela, which is already extremely polarized, is in big trouble. In this respect, there is a big difference between how oil prices affect Canada and the U.S. and how they affect countries where the politics have become totally petrolized. Where there is simply no difference at all between wealth and power, where corruption and rent seeking have taken over the whole enterprise or where conflict is already very high, these are the most vulnerable countries.

“Venezuela has been an economic and political mess for a long time — well prior to the rise of Chavez. Indeed, Chavez came to power during the 1998 price collapse because the former party system could not manage the oil economy, control massive corruption, or direct petrodollars to alleviate poverty.

“But the current government does not have the power or charisma of Chavez nor economic management capacity.

“Thus, even though prices are much higher than 1998, like the party system earlier, it too is facing a perfect storm. If prices stay low and the economy continues to contract, grave civil conflict could result. In this respect, those who want to see the complete collapse of chavismo should be careful what they wish for. Venezuelans would be better off negotiating their crisis.”

What about Putin’s Russia, a classic petro state where oil revenues make up more than 50 per cent of government revenue?

“Russia isn’t quite as vulnerable as Venezuela, but because it is a global power its fate is more important. In the face of both sanctions and low prices, the ruble has plummeted, debt is rising, living standards are declining, and food prices are up sharply. With oil prices high, Putin took certain actions in the Ukraine and elsewhere because he felt untouchable; his popularity remains very high.

“But this could change very quickly if prices remain low.

“Most people don’t understand that the decline of the former Soviet Union was closely linked to the 1986 collapse in oil prices. Putin later took advantage of high prices to build his own personal power. That could be at stake if prices stay low.”

What about Saudi Arabia (a Sunni state) which has played a major role in orchestrating the price collapse by flooding the market with its low cost oil?

“Saudi Arabia is the most interesting petro state of all because of its continued influence on prices.

“The Saudis have obviously learned a lot from their orchestration of the 1986 price collapse, which they used to increase their market shares. This time the net effect of low prices is good for them in many ways. They have substantial financial reserves, and they can weather this low price better than any other major oil exporter.

“What is really interesting is how quiet and calm they are. The government is not saying much. But lower prices permit the Saudis to protect their market share in the face of the huge production threat from the U.S.; lower prices, if they last over time, will drive some high cost shale and bitumen producers out of the market.

“Saudi Arabia has always used oil prices for its regional political ends. When prices were high, they gave ten times more money than the US to the Egyptian generals. Now that prices have dropped, this plunge directly weakens their biggest rival, Iran (a Shia state), which is in a tacit alliance with the U.S. in the fight against ISIS. Saudi Arabia should weather this period well.”

Why is this oil price collapse different than previous ones?

“The United States is a major oil producer this time around. Production is higher than it has been since 1972, and over half of this comes from relatively high cost fracking. Equally important, this has a secondary effect on international financial markets, especially because oil has become a hugely traded financial asset. Today, oil price volatility has become a tipping point in the financial system.

“Oil prices and stock markets used to go in different directions. When prices went up dramatically, market hysteria pushed stocks down, and recession would ensue. Because the price is now down, this should be a boon to consumers, help the economies of consuming nations, and represent a massive transfer of wealth from oil producers to oil consumers. But the stock market doesn’t reflect this. In the last few years, the markets and oil prices are moving in tandem, and this is new.

“I suspect there are several reasons for this. First, advanced industrialized economies, and most especially the United States, have reached historic highs in inequality. This means that there is no wage growth, there is little consumer spending and the main concern is deflation, not inflation. While low prices help consumers, they simply will not have the same effect given acute poverty levels and the squeezing of the middle class.

“Second, the global economy may be de-accelerating, meaning this is not just a supply glut but also a reflection of lower demand from China, Europe and elsewhere.

“Finally, the stock market is reflecting the dangerous intertwining between oil futures and junk bonds, which was not the case decades ago.”

Both oil companies and global economies are now carrying great debt loads as hydrocarbons become more extreme and difficult to extract. The world’s largest 127 oil and gas firms generated $568 billion in cash from their operations during 2013-2014, while their expenses totalled $677 billion? How is debt affecting this whole picture?

“Debt is the Achilles heel of this picture. If prices remain low for several years, a lot of U.S. shale producers have high debt loads, especially in junk bonds. Today, energy debt currently accounts for a substantial 16 per cent of the U.S. junk bond market. If these producers start going bust, investors in junk bonds will be in for a shock.

Terry Lynn Karl: ‘We are in a situation where oil supply limits can cause recessions and oil supply gluts can cause stock market failures.’

“But this is only part of the picture.

“Dropping oil prices affect international debt as well, creating a high risk of default by countries like Venezuela. Around the world two sets of debt are coming in — from the high cost bitumen and shale oil producers who borrowed to help create the current supply glut and oil exporting producers who have borrowed heavily. Both affect the entire financial system.

“The biggest danger of prolonged low prices is a debt-related collapse linked to the rising cost of hydrocarbon extraction. Because low oil prices take a while to work their way through the system, this is not an immediate threat. But we should not forget that falling oil prices and junk bonds all played a role in the crash of 2008.”

Will oil prices stay low for a while?

“Uncertainty is the name of the game now. The price of oil is more volatile than ever before. Oil is linked to finance more than ever before. And the economies of producing and consuming countries are more intertwined than ever before.

“Predicting prices is a fool’s errand. Oil prices could stay down in 2015. There is a lot of supply and little demand right now. But what happens if unrest increases inside some oil-exporters because their regimes are forced to cut back on their extensive food and oil subsidies? What happens if conflict disrupts supply in Libya, Venezuela, Nigeria, Iraq or Iran? The price of oil could soar overnight.

“I don’t know how things will play out. But there is the tightest of links not only between the global economy and finance but also energy producers, environmental damage and the speed up in climate change. We are in a situation where oil supply limits can cause recessions and oil supply gluts can cause stock market failures.

“We urgently must wean ourselves from fossil fuels. All we are doing now is moving costs and benefits around in a highly volatile system. Few win, and most people lose. But I am not optimistic that this will happen before the consequences are catastrophic. There is just too much money in oil. As long as these extraordinarily high profits exist, oil will be extracted and politics will be petrolized to prohibit better alternatives.”

What have some aboriginal people foreseen about oil that industrialized societies haven’t?

“In Asia, Africa and Latin America, companies are searching for oil in pristine areas where ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples live. There are conflicts between Aboriginal people and oil companies everywhere. In northwestern Columbia, for example, some 5,000 U’wa have been battling Occidental Petroleum for years. The U’wa believe that oil is the blood of earth. When you take out too much blood from the body of Mother Earth, this will bring fluctuations in weather, fires, huge storms and changes to the climate.

“One U’wa chief came to my office at Stanford and stood in line during my office hours. Dressed in traditional garb, he did not look like any of my students. He did not speak Spanish, and I quickly learned that the U’wa do not have a written language. But through an interpreter, he explained that as head of 200 religious leaders; it was their duty to protect the earth. These U’wa religious leaders had made a pact to commit collective suicide if they failed to protect their territory from Occidental Petroleum.

“After years of struggle, including court cases in Colombia, Occidental was stopped — at least temporarily. Pretty sobering…”

Does the term petro state fit for places like Alaska, Texas, Louisiana, Alberta and Saskatchewan?

“Yes and no. When I developed the idea, I referred to the central government, not states in a federalist system. The petro state applied only to capital deficient oil exporting countries with big populations that were late developers.

“Since the U.S. was a producer but not an exporter, the same effects were not present.

“I showed that petro-states had the effect of replacing tax mechanisms with excessive oil profits, and this, in turn, then petrolized the whole political and economic environment. Oil influence and oil issues dominated the government.

“Petro states do not have to bargain or negotiate with their citizens. Their power depends on how they pass around oil revenues, how this wealth is distributed. Regimes that do that well, like the Saudi royal family or the former Venezuelan two party system, stay in power for a long time. Those that keep the revenue too closely inside their own support base, whether this is an autocratic family or a small religious or ethnic group, often don’t last as long.

“In most petro states, government spending is never an issue for public debate. Norway, the exception that proves the rule, has constant debates about oil distribution, even between its citizens today and future generations.

“A centralized power, to the contrary, just hands out petrodollars, quieting the loudest voices and its own power base. Thus statecraft is stifled. Because petro states invite little debate, nourish no coherent bureaucracy and engage in volatile spending, the state’s institutions get weaker and weaker. Stability-wise, this is not good.

“Alaska and Texas and Alberta are all part of a federal system, but they certainly take on some of the same characteristics of petro states. If you look at Texas or Alaska, and how they distribute oil wealth, they have boom and bust cycles just like an oil state, and they have repeated serious trouble balancing their budgets. But this volatility is mediated by central government.

“As easy oil becomes scarcer, and the commodity becomes even more valuable, oil politics inside these states have a contagion effect and tend to increasingly influence the central government. I suspect this same phenomenon can be seen in Alberta and the Canadian government.”

There are many such indicators in Alberta and Canada. Pipelines dominate all political discussion. Environmental legislation has been gutted while environmentalists and aboriginals protecting their land have been branded as foreign-funded radicals. The Harper government has centralized power enormously. Climate change is regarded with skepticism. Little money has been saved from oil. Alberta is a fiscal basket case. Foreign policy consists of bashing other petro states because Canada has so-called ethical oil. And scientific dissent has been muzzled.

“This does not surprise me. Democracies today are especially vulnerable to oil interests. But if oil prices stay low, this political arrangement won’t last over time.

“Instead, if prices continue declining and if they stay low for a few years (two big ‘ifs’) — they have already dropped 40 per cent but no one knows whether this price will endure — expect the following: a rapidly declining Canadian dollar, greater problems over pipelines, the reduction of future investments, and a very bumpy oil ride, especially for Alberta.

“Any adverse effect low oil prices will have on Canada’s high cost oil industry will have a multiplier effect on the economy and polity. Government services will be cut back, house sales will decline, and banking will slow down. Canadians will not be so happy with their government.

“How long will the prices stay down, and how long will it take for those effects to work their way through the economy? That is the question. If other vulnerable petro-states collapse, like Venezuela or Libya, or if conflict removes oil from the market, prices quickly could soar again.”

Has oil ruined us, as Perez Alfonso feared?

“For those of us living in advanced industrialized countries, inexpensive oil through 1970 has largely made our current standard of living. But Perez Alfonzo understood that oil is a non-renewable resource. It has huge costs associated with it, not only benefits.

“Let me be clear: the commodity itself is neither good nor bad.

“But the excessive profit involved from what Adam Smith called ‘reaping what has not been sown’ has led to a concentration of power and influence that makes it exceptionally difficult to fight the negative consequences of hydrocarbon dependence. This is true not only in Venezuela, Nigeria, Russia and the Middle East but also in the U.S. and Canada.

“Today, more than ever before as the ‘easy’ oil is being used up, the exploitation of petroleum in pristine environments hurts our water and the air we breathe. It threatens our climate. It props up authoritarian regimes and increases the propensity for war. In this respect, Juan Pablo Perez Alfonso was a visionary. He saw something about ‘the devil’s excrement’ before anyone else, and then he was kind enough to show it to me.”

Read more: Energy, Politics,

Andrew Nikiforuk is an award-winning journalist who has been writing about the energy industry for two decades and is a contributing editor to The Tyee. Find his previous stories here.

This coverage of Canadian national issues is made possible because of generous financial support from our Tyee Builders.

Malicious lawsuit settled

MONTREAL, Aug. 15, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ – In a landmark decision, the Quebec Superior Court sentenced businessman Eddy Savoie, owner of Les Résidences Soleil, to pay $297,095.77 in damages to Ms. Pierrette Thériault-Martel for filing a malicious lawsuit against her.

This decision ends a legal saga that lasted three years. In July 2011, Ms. Thériault-Martel was served with a libel lawsuit filed by Mr. Savoie, in which he claimed $400,000 over remarks that she had made denouncing the poor quality of the services offered at the CHSLD Saint-Lambert-sur-le-Golf. In September 2013, the Quebec Superior Court held that Mr. Savoie’s lawsuit was malicious and unreasonable and reserved Ms. Thériault-Martel’s right to claim damages.

“This judgment is a great relief for me. The last three years have been very hard, but today I realize that there is a justice,” says Ms. Thériault-Martel.

Ms. Thériault-Martel, whose has an annual income of only $12,000, had learned about the lawsuit while she was taking care of her dying mother. The numerous legal procedures that ensued caused her severe stress, and also demonstrated that Mr. Savoie, whose net worth is more than $1,5 billion, had filed this lawsuit with the sole goal of intimidating and silencing her. This type of lawsuit is commonly referred to as a “strategic lawsuit against public participation”, or SLAPP.

“This judgment will have a significant impact on the protection of vulnerable people in the health system and in Quebec society in general,” says Me Jean-Pierre Ménard, attorney for Ms. Thériault-Martel.

The decision, rendered by The Hon. Gary D.D. Morrison, includes $87,095.77 in costs and extrajudicial fees, $10,000 in moral damages and $200,000 in punitive damages, which is the highest amount of punitive damages awarded in a malicious lawsuit case in Quebec.

Ms. Thériault-Martel, Me Ménard and Mr. Louis Plamondon, spokesman for the Association québécoise de défense des droits des personnes retraitées et préretraitées (AQDR), will comment on this judgment at a press conference held at the office of Ménard, Martin avocats on Monday, August 18th, at 10:30 am. More details on this press conference to follow.

SOURCE Ménard, Martin, avocats

For further information: Please contact Me Jean-Pierre Ménard at (514) 253-8044 or by e-mail at

What to do if someone SLAPPs you

Paul Heisler

There is a reason why Hollywood legal thrillers always cast the big company as the defendant and never the plaintiff in lawsuits: there is nothing romantic about being sued by a company with deep pockets. There are no opportunities to bang the table and demand the truth; no vindication through articulate and impassioned speeches to the court; and most importantly for an activist, no chance of a victory on the substantive issue that instigated the lawsuit in the first place. In most cases, victory for a defendant in a strategic lawsuit against public participation (or a “SLAPP” as they are commonly known) is pyrrhic: a no cost settlement that leaves you no further ahead and much poorer than when you began.

A SLAPP is a lawsuit (or threat of a lawsuit) used mostly by private interests to intimidate opponents into silence or acquiescence. In the Canadian context, SLAPPs have reportedly been used to silence dissent on a wide range of issues, including environmental practices, zoning by-laws and consumer complaints. The purpose of the SLAPP is not normally to win an actual legal victory, but to change the channel on an issue by putting individual citizens and public interest groups on the defensive. A SLAPP moves the fight into the legal arena where corporate Goliaths have a massive advantage which they can exploit to suppress criticism and ultimately discourage activism. Lawsuits are almost always a painfully slow, technical and expensive process that favours those with greater resources and even if successful, a defendant will rarely recover more than a third of their actual legal costs. As the proceeding drags on and expenses mount, the pressure to capitulate and reach some form of settlement can be overwhelming.

While a SLAPP can take many forms, the most notorious cases involve allegations of defamation, interference with economic relations, and conspiracy. Such lawsuits usually seek both monetary damages and injunctive relief. They can be effective because the legal system is not designed to efficiently screen lawsuits for improper motives. While a lawsuit brought for purposes other than the assertion of legitimate rights is undoubtedly an abuse of the court’s process, judges are generally reluctant to exercise their inherent jurisdiction to dismiss abusive litigation, except in the clearest of cases.

The rules of civil litigation in most Canadian jurisdictions do provide mechanisms to attack abusive lawsuits at an early stage of the legal process, such as the rules in British Columbia for summary trial or the striking of a pleading that discloses no reasonable claim or is unnecessary, scandalous, frivolous or vexatious. While such procedural safeguards are conceptually sound, in practice it is extremely difficult to dismiss a claim using summary procedures if the court is being asked to resolve complicated issues and conflicting evidence.
Striking a claim for being unnecessary, scandalous, frivolous or vexatious is only really possible where it is plain and obvious the case is sure to fail. In both cases, the instigator of a SLAPP can gain an almost insurmountable advantage by initiating proceedings that are factually complex and involve multiple causes of action. Like an unrelenting game of whack-a-mole, the lawsuit does not end unless the defendant can effectively knock down all of the allegations.

Starting unjustifiable litigation is itself a ground for a lawsuit in Canada. The tort of abuse of process occurs where a legal proceeding is commenced with the predominant purpose of furthering some indirect, collateral and improper purpose outside the ambit of the litigation. Unfortunately, the tort of abuse of process is of little assistance to most defendants in a SLAPP. First, the intention to silence a critic through a lawsuit is not, in and of itself, an improper purpose in a defamation lawsuit.
Second, even where a defendant in a SLAPP and commences a counterclaim for abuse of process, the decision there may be delayed until the resolution of the SLAPP itself. In other words, there is very little chance to explore a plaintiff’s motives in the midst of being sued.

This point was recently confirmed by the British Columbia Supreme Court in a lawsuit that some commentators have labelled a SLAPP. In Canwest Mediaworks Publications Inc. v. Horizon Publications, Canwest commenced a lawsuit to enforce its intellectual property rights after the publication of a mock edition of the Vancouver Sun. The parody mocked the Sun’s coverage of the Israeli Palestinian conflict, which has previously received criticism for a perceived lack of balance.

The defendant Gordon Murray alleged in his defence that the true purpose of the lawsuit was not to protect intellectual property but to stifle expression of a contrary point of view on that issue. In effect, Mr. Murray characterized the lawsuit as a SLAPP. The court ultimately agreed with Canwest that its motives for bringing the lawsuit are irrelevant to Canwest’s intellectual property infringement claim and explained that the “mere assertion in a statement of defence that a lawsuit is an abuse of process does nothing more than assert — in an inappropriate, overly-polemical manner — that the plaintiff’s claim is without merit. It has no place in a [defence].”
While the Canwest suit, which remains ongoing, may indeed strike some readers as a SLAPP, it also nicely illustrates the difficulty for SLAPP defendants and judges confronted by such lawsuits. Canwest has the same right as anyone to enforce its intellectual property and unless it is plain and obvious that a claim has no merit, no one should be deprived of the opportunity to prove their case at trial. The difficulty facing ordinary citizens and public interest groups, however, is that by the time a trial is finished the damage may already be done.

Note: Pro Bono provides legal information designed to educate and entertain readers. But legal information is not the same as legal advice — the application of law to an individual’s specific circumstances. While efforts are made to ensure the legal information provided through these columns is useful, we strongly recommend you consult a lawyer for assistance with your particular situation to obtain accurate advice.

New York Says No to Fracking: State Bans Drilling Following Grassroots Outcry over Public Health

Democracy Now!
New York has become the first state in the nation with major natural gas deposits to ban the oil and gas extraction process of hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, citing potential risks to public health. Fracking involves blasting sand, water and toxic chemicals deep into shale rock to release oil and gas, a process which can poison water supplies and pollute the air. Following a two-year study, New York Acting Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said fracking was too risky. We speak to biologist, activist and author Sandra Steingraber, co-founder of New Yorkers Against Fracking. Also joining us is Cornell University professor Tony Ingraffea, president of Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy.

JUAN GONZALEZ: New York has become the first state in the nation with major natural gas deposits to ban the oil and gas drilling process known as fracking, citing potential risks to public health. Fracking involves blasting sand, water and toxic chemicals deep into shale rock to release oil and gas, a process which can poison water supplies and pollute the air. Following a two-year study, acting New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said fracking was too risky.

HOWARD ZUCKER: The potential risks are too great. In fact, they are not even fully known. Relying upon the limited data that is presently available to answer the public health risks would be negligent on my part. I have identified significant public health risks in the current data. And until the public health red flags are answered by valid evidence through longitudinal long-term studies, prospective analysis, patient surveys with large population pools showing that the risk for impact on public health are avoidable or sufficiently low, I cannot support high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the great state of New York.

AMY GOODMAN: The decision to ban fracking was announced by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO: This is an emotional debate, and I think this is a very factual presentation and persuasive on the facts. Do I believe the facts will trump all emotion? No. So I’m sure the people who disagree with this will continue to disagree with it.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Anti-fracking activists welcomed the ban with celebrations across the state. Environmentalists have waged a fierce campaign to ban fracking in New York. The actor and longtime anti-fracking activist Mark Ruffalo posted a short video online after the ban was announced.

MARK RUFFALO: New York state just passed a moratorium on hydrofracking. Thank you, Governor Cuomo, Joe Martens and Commissioner Zucker. And thanks to all the beautiful, dedicated people in the anti-fracking movement, who used science, their guts, their brains and their hearts to make this day a reality. Love you!

AMY GOODMAN: Activists note infrastructure related to fracking remains in place upstate New York. On Tuesday, 41 people were arrested for blocking the gates of a gas storage facility as part of a campaign against the Texas-based company Crestwood Midstream. The group, We Are Seneca Lake, has seen more than 130 arrests in a series of actions against the company’s plans to expand methane gas storage at a lake which provides drinking water to 100,000 people.

Among those at the protest was the biologist, the activist, the author, Sandra Steingraber. She joins us now from Ithaca, New York. She co-founded both New Yorkers Against Fracking and Concerned Health Professionals of New York. Her books include Living Downstream and, her latest, Raising Elijah: Protecting Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis.

Also joining us from Cornell University is Cornell professor Tony Ingraffea. He’s also the president of Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! This is a major decision. New York has major gas deposits. Sandra Steingraber, can you talk about how this actually happened? Sure, the governor announced it, but what was the pressure brought on the governor?

SANDRA STEINGRABER: Well, that’s a tale that could be told as an opera, I think. So, we had the good fortune to have a moratorium in place by our previous governor, and I’ll let Tony tell some of the details of how that came to be. But because we had pushed the pause button, that gave those of us in the scientific community a chance to begin to really look at the data and the research and what it showed.

And we started off with only a handful of studies. There were only six studies on the health effects of fracking and the environmental impacts in 2008, for example, when we had the first moratorium declared. Now there are 414 studies and counting. And so, it was like we had pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, and when you only have a couple of pieces and you try to see what the picture is, it’s hard to see. But we saw troubling signs, but it was a little bit like trying to read the tea leaves. And then, as more data came in and more studies were done, and we talked to more scientists and we knew what the data looked like that was in the pipeline that was coming up to be published, we began to put more pieces of the jigsaw puzzle. And now we have 414 pieces assembled.

And even though there are still parts of the picture we can’t see very well, what’s obvious to us now is that fracking is not only harmful to our water supply and poisons our air and is beginning to actually show signs of and indicators of making people sick, but also that the problems associated with fracking are inherent to the engineering itself and cannot be mitigated in any regulatory framework. So we couldn’t see any signs that fracking had been done in a certain way, under certain rules that could govern the safety of it such that people wouldn’t be harmed.

And so, we – Tony and I, together – as well as a whole bunch of other scientists, we didn’t just take that information to our regulatory agencies – although we did that, too – because they actually seem sort of deaf to the science. We started early on taking it directly to the citizenry. So, this idea that sort of science and politics exist in two separate boxes, I don’t think so. I mean, objectivity is one thing, and we’re really objective as scientists, but science is not neutral, and it’s not a monk that should be sequestered away in a monastery. Science is like a gladiator that should be in the public arena. And so, we took – we spent, I don’t know, a couple years, every Friday night in a church basement somewhere, in a Rotary Club, in a public library, in a junior high school gymnasium, giving PowerPoint presentations with whatever data we had to groups of citizens in small towns all across the state. And so, that began then citizen organization. Local ban movements sprang up. And then, of course, at some point in 2011, 2012, we had so many different anti-fracking groups, that we united them then under the umbrella, my organization, New Yorkers Against Fracking. And then, Concerned Health Professionals of New York was the sort of science branch of that movement.

And at the same time, Tony’s shop, Physicians, Scientists and Engineers, a completely separate organization, we began to look at the same data sets – PSE from a statistical point of view, we did the qualitative analysis. We not only brought that out to the people in our compendiums and reports, we sent it to our Department of Health commissioners, first Dr. Shah, now Dr. Zucker. We sent it to the DEC. We sent it to the governor. So we were constantly bringing data forward to inform the political process.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Sandra . . .

SANDRA STEINGRABER: So that was a big . . .

JUAN GONZALEZ: And, Sandra . . .

SANDRA STEINGRABER: That was a big part of it.

JUAN GONZALEZ: . on that whole issue . .

SANDRA STEINGRABER: And then, of course, musicians and filmmakers all played their own role in captivating the citizenry and uniting us and making us feel like we were on a winning team.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Sandra, on this whole issue of your outreach to citizen groups, I remember talking to Governor Cuomo a few weeks ago when he was at the Daily News Editorial Board and asking him specifically about the fracking issue, and it was clear that he was feeling enormous pressure. Clearly, the primary vote, where Zephyr Teachout won huge numbers of vote in the region targeted for fracking, he was aware that there was a major upsurge in the population of New York state that was opposed to fracking. And I have to think that that had some kind of impact on this final decision of his health commissioner. Clearly, the local municipalities were banning fracking in their own area. There were protests constantly where the governor went. So this was a – meanwhile, the rest of the country was increasingly turning to fracking, other states. So this is a really unusual situation, what’s happened here in New York state.

SANDRA STEINGRABER: It is. And I really just want to be really clear and thank the governor for listening to the science, because the part of the pressure he was feeling was the pressure of science, because we equipped the citizenry to bring the science, as citizens, to their government. And Governor Cuomo then, in the end, said he would let science make the decision. And he sure did. So, from my perspective as a scientist in the public interest, as somebody who’s spent a lot of years in public health, where I see decision makers and political leaders and elected officials not interested and turning away from the science, here’s a governor who embraced it and said no and stood up to the gas industry. So, all my gratitude to you today, Governor Cuomo.


AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to a clip from Josh Fox’s 2013 documentary, Gasland Part II. In this clip, Lisa Parr of Wise County, Texas, explains how her family’s health deteriorated after natural gas drilling began around their home.
LISA PARR: My daughter looks up. Her rash is all over her face. She has a nosebleed. Bob has a nosebleed, burning throat, burning eyes. I had a rash. It covered my scalp. It went through my entire body, literally to the bottoms of my feet. My throat would start swelling. I started gasping for air. I started stuttering. I started stumbling. My face drew up on my left side like I had Bell palsy.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s a clip from Gasland Part II by Josh Fox. I bumped into Josh Fox, interestingly, in Lima, Peru, at the major People’s Climate March last week in the midst of the U.N. climate summit. And he is going to – he’s interviewing people right now in the Amazon as he links oil politics and gas politics around the world. But I wanted to turn to Tony Ingraffea, professor emeritus and Weiss Presidential Teaching Fellow at Cornell University, also president of Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, Inc. Not a lot of people around the country are having this kind of success in getting a ban on fracking. Professor Ingraffea, talk about the science you presented and what you were most concerned about. I mean, this ban is based on health concerns.

ANTHONY INGRAFFEA: Yes, but before I answer that question directly, I want to expand a little bit on what Dr. Steingraber said about how this whole process occurred. It’s a perfect example of democracy now. In 2008, where all the other states lying over shale deposits opened the barn doors and let dozens of operators in, absent the science, New York had a special law on the books – an Environmental Quality Review Act. And it took the effort of an individual citizen, Dr. Stan Scobie, to write a brief to Governor Paterson pointing out that that law had to come into effect if shale gas was to be exploited in New York state. That’s a perfect example of an individual citizen informing a governor.

Governor Paterson wisely took heed and said, “OK, let that law go out, go forward,” and that led to something called an environmental review, an environmental impact statement. That led to hundreds of thousands of individual comments, written by citizens all over New York state, that turned back two – not one, not – actually three at this point, three versions of that environmental impact statement. And as of today, we still do not have a viable, valid environmental impact statement for shale gas in New York state. That’s one of the reasons for Governor Cuomo’s decision this week. So there’s another example of democracy at work.

And as Dr. Steingraber just pointed out, while that was happening, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers saying, “No, your science doesn’t look good to us,” the scientists were at work, going from those six papers in 2008 to over 400 today. And the second wise governor took office in 2010, Governor Cuomo, and realizing that the science was not yet ready, concluded obviously that you don’t establish an important energy policy absent good science, especially science having to do with human health. So he waited, wisely, for the science to catch up. And it almost has. The puzzle is almost complete. We now see what the impacts are, and Dr. Zucker pointed them out in his comments earlier this week.

So, the science that had to be done – now, to answer your question directly – was obvious. What effects, through air, through water, through ground movements, through climate change, through leaking wells, through sociological effects on communities, economic effects on communities, ecological effects on communities? What science do we know when shale gas comes to town? And we knew very little in 2008.

So, some of those studies pointed out that shale gas, unlike previous conventional gas developments, is extremely intense. We have to have many, many wells per square mile – eight, nine, 10 wells per square mile. That means entire regions would have to see tens of thousands of wells. The prospective was that upstate New York was going to be patterned, checkerboard pattern, a pad every mile in one direction, every two miles in another direction, as far as the eye could see. And that means that we increase the risk of all the bad things that can happen when you drill a hole in the ground and when you try to extract enormous amounts of natural gas. There can be leaks. There can be failures. There can be transportation problems. There can be pipeline problems, compressor station problems, processor unit problems, storage problems. All of these lead to potential contamination of water supplies, underground drinking water supplies for people in private water wells, which is quite prevalent in upstate New York, and air contamination.

We all breathe the same air. We’re all downstream, as Dr. Steingraber’s book points out. You can’t isolate shale gas from the people. It makes the people be part of the shale gas-industrial operation. And the people of New York state, using their democratic powers, informed the governors of New York state that they wanted the science to declare whether a policy allowing shale gas development in New York was appropriate – 19.8 million people in the state – on the one hand, their health; on the other hand, the potential, and now unrealizable, wealth of a few hundred people and a few foreign corporations. I think the decision became very clear for Governor Cuomo this week.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Professor Ingraffea, why do you think that this kind of a democratic process has not taken place in other parts of the United States? And, of course, the shale gas industry has expanded worldwide now, seeking to drill in – all over the planet.

ANTHONY INGRAFFEA: That’s an excellent question, and it goes back to one of the things I said. It was a bit of luck and a bit of wisdom on the part of a former governor. The luck was that Cornell had a law on its books that other states, most other states, don’t. And that law very simply says, if a new industrial process seeks to establish itself in the state of New York and it hasn’t been here before, it has to show – it has to show that it does not have deleterious effects on the environment and human health.

And shale gas development, despite what the president of the American petroleum association says – American Petroleum Institute says, is a new process. Developing shale gas is not your grandmother’s and grandfather’s oil and gas well in Texas. It’s an entirely new process. It’s orders of magnitude large in scale. The number of wells, the time it takes to drill wells, the amount of fracking fluid that’s used to stimulate the wells, the amount of waste that’s produced, the amount of ancillary infrastructure, pipelines, compressor station, processing units – all of that makes it different.

So why is it that Colorado or Texas or Oklahoma or Arkansas or Illinois, North Carolina and Maryland, which have negligible shale gas resources, why are they going forward? Two reasons: They didn’t have that law on the books, or that law wasn’t enforced, and, two, they didn’t have the time to generate the kind of citizen impact and citizen input that we luckily had because of that wise decision in 2008 in New York state. But those states are going to catch up. New York state, this is a landmark. This is the wellspring. This is where it all begins for those other states to say, “Yeah, it looks like it’s going to happen in places like Illinois, North Carolina and Maryland, but it hasn’t happened yet, and we can still stop it.” And in places like Colorado and Texas and Oklahoma and Arkansas, where the deleterious effects that you’ve already discussed, we’ve already discussed here, are now becoming more and more apparent every day, the citizens are being involved. They are getting motivated. And what we did in New York state is going to be a tremendous impetus for them.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And do you think – what do you think about the plummeting price of oil on the world market? Is this having some kind of an impact on the full-court press that the oil and gas industry has been doing now for several years in terms of shale gas extraction?

ANTHONY INGRAFFEA: Absolutely. We’re talking about a very complex, global-scale industry. What does happen in Russia does affect what happens in Pennsylvania. So, the dropping prices for hydrocarbons, oil and natural gas, are having huge effects on the industry itself. We’re seeing a pullback in the number of wells being drilled. We’re seeing a pullback in capital flowing from Wall Street into the coffers of the oil and gas industry so that they can drill their wells and build their infrastructure.

But more importantly, I think, here, it gives the lie to the promise, the empty promise, that the industry gave to most other states, and tried to give to New York state, which is, “We’re going to – there will be gold-paved streets for you. Everybody is going to get rich.” It doesn’t work that way in extractive industries. It’s boom-bust. And guess what. It’s now bust.

It didn’t take long. The industry oversupplied. Too many companies trying to get in very, very quickly to make a quick profit, when prices for oil and gas were high. They’ve driven down prices because of oversupply. They’ve made this attempt to address that problem by proposing to build liquefied natural gas exporting facilities on all coasts of the United States – and Canada – to try to get “American-made” natural gas, our resource, exported into foreign markets.

So, the people of New York state and the people of other states are now trying – are beginning to realize that that was all a charade. It was all a big lie. It’s corporate profit making underneath an American flag.

AMY GOODMAN: Before we wrap up . . .

ANTHONY INGRAFFEA: So, is it our gas and our oil? No. Are we really decreasing the cost of energy for Americans? No. For gas right now, gasoline for your car right now, sure. But now what we’re doing is causing a decrease in the most important secondary aspect of this effort, which is to rapidly increase renewable energy supplies.

So, I’m trying to point out that this is a very complex issue involving geopolitics, involving the fight between traditional energy sources, renewable energy sources, different states’ approaches, the people’s common pocketbook – how much they’re paying for energy now versus how much they’re going to be paying for energy in the future, and are they going to go out and buy a Prius tomorrow, or are they going to go out and buy a Hummer?

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you both for being with us, Professor Tony Ingraffea, professor emeritus at Cornell University, president of Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, Inc., and Sandra Steingraber. Dr. Steingraber is an activist, biologist, author, co-founded both New Yorkers Against Fracking and Concerned Health Professionals of New York. She has quite a remarkable resume. She has been named Woman of the Year by Ms. magazine, one of “25 visionaries who are changing the world” by Utne Reader, among many other things.

And end with the quote of Rebecca Solnit, who said, “The governor did it because he was pushed hard by activists. Look at the weather vanes, but respect the wind.”