Today, RAN took the fight against dirty Tar Sands oil to Washington.
At the Capitol Hilton in Washington, DC today, the Canadian-American Business Council held a high-profile forum on energy and environment. Speakers included Canadian Prime Minister Harper's senior energy advisor, the Premier of Manitoba, and several U.S. members of Congress – as well as senior officials from Shell, Iogen, and TransAlta. (The entire event was sponsored by ExxonMobil.) Overall, it was a big chance for some big-time greenwashing of the Tar Sands – the world's dirtiest source of oil, and a huge threat to Indigenous rights and climate change.
And also in attendance were about thirty protestors, organized by ForestEthics and RAN, who stood outside the Hilton and protested the Canadian government's ongoing support for dirty Tar Sands – as well as two super-sneaky RAN and ForestEthics activists, who went inside the meeting to disrupt it.
Notably not in attendance was Canadian Minister of Environment (and former Minister of Industry) Jim Prentice, who was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the conference until he withdrew several days ago. Our good friend Jim may possibly have cancelled because of fallout from last week's nasty scandal – in which leaked recordings of a Canadian minister revealed that Prentice had taken funds that was supposed to be spent on wind power and diverted them into a $1 billion research fund for the Tar Sands. (Or maybe he just got word of what RAN was up to, and got cold feet.)
But this problem is bigger than Jim Prentice: the Canadian government has been jumping full tilt boogie on the Tar Sands bandwagon. Prime Minister Stephen Harper's idea of promoting the greening of Canada's energy supply is a ludicrous plan to use carbon capture and storage to reduce emissions from the Tar Sands. Not to mention Harper deriding the Kyoto Protocol as a “socialist scheme,” and pushing carbon reduction goals that are even weaker than those being pushed by Republicans in the U.S.
So today, two RAN and ForestEthics activists, posing as oil industry representatives, surreptitiously planted themselves inside the conference for the keynote address by Manitoba's Premier Gary Doer – who was singing the praises of Canadian natural gas, an increasing amount of which is now being funneled towards Tar Sands production. One of the protestors unfurled a hand banner reading “Tar Sands: Too Dirty to Be Greenwashed” and shouted out “all fossil fuels are false solutions!” Security guards grabbed him and roughly hustled him out. A RAN activist then stood up, unfurled another hand banner, and yelled: “Hey, Gary! We need a clean energy future! The Tar Sands are the world's dirtiest oil source!” as he was being hauled out of the room by security.
Meanwhile, outside the meeting, 30 protestors – organized by RAN and ForestEthics – yelled, chanted, passed out 500 flyers to conference participants, and generally did everything they could to let our Canadian guests know that they won't stop until the Tar Sands are shut down.
I bet Jim Prentice is pretty glad he stayed at home. (And if he even thinks about coming down to the U.S. again, RAN will be ready.)