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This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 220 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story:

The Government of Alberta has created the new “Energy War Room” (with an annual budget of $30 million) to combat environmental NGOs, specifically those who have been campaigning against the oil sector.

This may come as a surprise to taxpayers wondering why a billion-dollar industry needs such government-subsidized assistance in the first place. Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage provided an answer of sorts, offering the following as the higher purpose of the Energy War Room:

"For more than a decade, anti-fossil fuel interest groups from around the world have been leading a deceitful campaign to landlock the oilsands. Not only has this campaign — founded entirely on lies — damaged the reputation of our world-class energy sector, it has caused significant damage to our province and hurt thousands of people who work hard and are proud of the work they do."

This official statement shows that the government has the oil industry’s back. Declaring the campaigns by the environmental NGOs to be “founded entirely on lies,” as the rationale for spending millions of taxpayer dollars to do the bidding of a billion-dollar industry, seems like a stretch. Surely, these corporations can handle their own legal challenges. The Energy War Room seems to be just another frivolous waste of taxpayer money.

Perhaps no one should be surprised that the Energy War Room only targets the NGOs against the oil industry.

None of the friends of oil are under attack by the taxpayer-funded Energy War Room, such as the hypocritically-named Friends of Science, even though this Calgary-based organization has been accused of “false and misleading representations” about the science of climate change.

Clearly, lies aren’t driving the Government of Alberta to establish the Energy War Room. What is?

Soon after the announcement of the Energy War Room in early June, what had simply been persecution escalated to prosecution: a public inquiry was launched into an alleged “foreign-funded defamation campaign” on the part of environmental NGOs.

At the announcement, Premier Jason Kenney said, “most importantly, it will serve notice that Alberta will no longer allow hostile interest groups to dictate our economic destiny as one of the most ethical major producers of energy in the world.” Hmmm, does “ethical oil” combat climate change?

The premier seems to think so.

When Danielle Smith, a zealous advocate of the oil industry, claimed, in a Calgary Herald column, that “Alberta’s energy industry is on the cusp of saving the planet,” Kenney quickly tweeted the article.

This retweet is just part of his own personal campaign. For example, on the federal price on carbon, he tweeted that the carbon tax would “punish Albertans for heating their homes & driving to work.” So much for defending the truth.

And it is not only organizations being targeted by the premier. At the launch of the Energy War Room, he notably singled out the respected environmental activist Tzeporah Berman for a personal attack; afterwards, she received a barrage of death threats.

Ms. Berman had already been mentioned in over two dozen derogatory tweets of his: she was labelled an “anti-energy zealot,” an “eco-radical” and “anti-Alberta.” With the creation of the Energy War Room, Jason Kenney has essentially branded Tzeporah Berman an enemy of the state.

The war room amounts to censorship and intimidation of any environmental group or person daring to challenge Kenney’s biggest corporate supporters. This new McCarthyism is a shocking abuse of political power to undermine free speech, and the inquisition has been mocked and appropriately called the “Un-Albertan activities committee.”

Chillingly, Postmedia has lobbied to be a partner in the Energy War Room. How can journalistic integrity exist within an organization advocating for an industry? The Energy War Room is a propaganda weapon that rings of George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth. Only so-called lies against the oil industry are “investigated” by the agency, while ones for the oil industry are encouraged by those in power. In other words, Big Brother is protecting big oil.

Even though Alberta and oil may be inseparable, Jason Kenney has crossed the line with his use of propaganda to protect the industry at any cost. Will the Energy War Room really save the oil sector and “put food on the table for their families” by censoring the environmental NGOs? Are there not much bigger factors plaguing the oil sector, such as U.S. oil imports, global pricing, pipelines, etc.?

The Energy War Room is a waste of tax dollars and suppresses free speech, but more importantly, we must remember, with or without the environmental NGOs, the climate crisis is not going away. Alberta is the largest carbon pollution emitter, and it has the fastest growth of emissions in the country. The major source is the oilsands. None of this is ever discussed by the premier or his officials.

Without major reductions in the oilsands’ GHG emissions — Kenney’s hardline stance makes this unlikely — Canada will not meet its international commitments on climate change. The Energy War Room is good for oil, good for Kenney and bad for Canada.

I thought Klein's Public Affairs Bureau was an extreme example of government manipulation of facts. Kenney appears to be determined to be worse than Klein. This time around the climate crisis is staring us in the face. And we're spending millions of taxpayers' dollars to defend the industry most responsible for the crisis. While 'our' government dismantles programs like the renewable energy procurement program and the Residential and Commercial Solar Program. We need to remove Kenney at our earliest convenience.

"In Alberta, a shocking abuse of political power to protect the oil industry"
No surprise. We all knew what was coming.

Former Premier Notley rejected the opportunity to raise royalties, and instead banged the drum for new pipelines. Trudeau and Notley moved the ball on the Trans Mountain pipeline down to the ten-yard line. Their signal achievement was to "push country-wide support for pipelines from 40% to 70%." Something Jason Kenney and his minions could never dream of doing. Notley even signed on to Vivian Krause's absurd conspiracy theories.
The pre-2015 AB NDP was a force for good in opposition. The only voice of sanity on climate and energy. Notley eliminated that option.
Now we have zero oil industry critics in the AB Legislature. Banished to opposition benches, the shrivelled NDP caucus can say nothing about oilsands expansion, oil & gas pollution, and climate inaction — because they promoted Big Oil's agenda in office.
Once Notley endorsed Vivian Krause's wacky theories, it was no longer right-wing and no longer conspiracy theory. Notley took it mainstream.
What was Notley's reward? She was kicked out of office, with plenty of abuse hurled her way.
The AB NDP's shift to the right left progressive positions undefended and opened up space for Jason Kenney to move even further right. In Alberta, we no longer have a mainstream party that champions science. The AB NDP took away our last hope for real action on climate in AB.

Here and around the world, the fossil fuel industry and its political puppets will stop at nothing to protect its profits.
In Alberta, politicians and journalists now sing from the same oil-soaked songsheet. On the federal stage, politicians identify corporate interests as the national interest (think Trans Mountain pipeline), and approve pipelines a day after declaring a "climate emergency."
The fossil fuel industry's headlong rush towards climate disaster has turned it into a death cult. When citizens see the naked, raw power of the fossil fuel industry on full display, they may finally repudiate this odious regime.

The reticular activating system in people's mind can be manipulated. Take a moment and look around around and see everything colored "red". How many red things did you see? Now without looking around you how many green things did you see? You will probably respond "that is not fair you did not ask me to look for green items." And you would be right.

Quote: The Reticular Activating System (RAS) is a bundle of nerves at our brainstem that filters out unnecessary information so the important stuff gets through. The RAS is the reason why you buy a new shirt or lease a new car and then all of a sudden you start seeing that shirt or car everywhere you go. The blue shirt or Tesla were there before, but now your senses are enhanced to those specific objects. The same is true if you learn a new word or a new language, you start to hear it everywhere you go. Think about it like this. Your RAS (brain) takes what you focus on and creates a filter for it. It sifts through the data and presents only the pieces that are important to you and your value system. The cool part is, of course, all of this happens without us noticing.

This is what Jason Kenney's war room is about. He wants Albertans' mind focused on what environmentalists at allegedly doing and not on the $260 billion fossil fuel clean up nightmare the oils sands have created, the multi-billion Indigenous loss suits they are facing, that Canadians per person are the biggest polluters in the world, that the Arctic is thawing and if that continues to happen life on Earth will face ecocide, Kennedy has Albertans focused on how the Canada and world are bullying poor little Albertans and does not communicate the damages the tarsands have done and measure those against the benefits they have generated. Canadians would be shocked.

Quote: A quick look north using Google map’s satellite view clearly shows some of the impacts on the landscape. Scattered along the banks of the Athabasca River is one of the world’s largest collections of tailings waste ponds—able to fill more than 500,000 Olympic swimming pools. These are so toxic, ducks and other birds have to be prevented from going near them. Although some companies have invested significantly in technology to address the tailings problem, that has not put a dent in the scale of the problem, according to the Pembina Institute, an Alberta-based energy think tank. The overall volume of tailings has kept growing for more than 50 years. Some ponds are leaking into the Athabasca River, says Paul Belanger, a former oil sands worker and current co-chair of Keepers of the Athabasca, an organization of indigenous peoples and environmentalists. Air pollution, including acid rain, also plagues the remote region. One study found that acid rain would eventually damage an area almost the size of Germany. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/04/alberta-canadas-t...

Thank you for this ... excellent (and horrifying).

The oil industry is on the cusp of saving the planet?!! How stupid does she think people are? I guess she isn’t far off the mark because people are very reluctant to put money where their mouth is. It is another example of NIMB, believe in climate change but don’t expect to take a reduced standard of living to save the planet for all the current living beings, animals, plants etc. Fools, fools, fools.

Oil-related recessions are caused by too low prices, which affect producing jurisdictions like Alberta. Recessions are also caused by too high prices and consumer's looking for aways to remediate their dependency by buying more efficient or electric vehicles.

There may be another spike in oil prices with an accompanying increase in oil production in places like Alberta to a price ceiling consumers will not be willing to puncture, now that U.S. shale oil production is beginning to stagnate under enormous debt and a downturn in investor interest (i.e. investors woke up and smelled the hype for what it is).

Further, the geological constraints of hard rock are already manifesting themselves in very steep decline rates in shale production. Two of the five U.S. plays have already plateaued or are in decline. That means that world oil production will eventually decrease, the glut will diminish and prices will climb again, until the next price ceiling.

That is the definition of Boom and Bust.

There are a number of mitigating factors, chief among them is the higher cost of unconventional oil, like tar sands products, shale and deep sea production which are slowly expanding its share of world oil production as the cheaper conventional oil proportion declines. The unconventionals can never bring cheaper oil prices back except through very temporary production spikes that create surpluses.

Another mitigating factor is that oil producers like Alberta need gas tanks to survive. It is apparent that Kenney et al and the oil majors are asleep at the wheel while the largest car manufacturers in the world are all ramping up production of electric vehicles. The largest of them all -- Toyota -- announced in June that it plans to radically retool its manufacturing plants and investments in battery technology and push the production of EVs to half of all world wide sales by 2025. That's only 5 1/2 years away.

To summarize:

- the world price of oil is set to increase as supplies are constrained in the next decade
- gas tanks are set to disappear in tranches worldwide throughout the next decade with the appearance of millions of EVs
- action on climate change is and will continue to rise inexorably in the next decade

Kenney et al know all this, but reject it publicly in favour of creating a straw man environmental conspiracy. They are too busy foaming at the mouth to notice the world is passing them by. This is a tragic comedy that will affect all Albertans before the end of the coming decade.

Yes, it will affect Albertans before the end of the coming decade. And the longer we wait to take action the more the 'tragic comedy' will look like tragedy as opposed to comedy. I take no satisfaction in anticipation of saying "I told you so" because we're going to see severe suffering. Not only in Alberta, but around the world.

Some people (Albertans) were actually around before Leduc #1 hit, and before Alberta was bought by the energy industry. Alberta and the oil business are not at all synonymous. Alberta will survive, the oil industry probably will not, at least not in its current form. But, it is important to the industry to maximize profit, to pull as much as possible out of the ground as quickly as possible, with as little environmental oversight as possible. Within 20 years, Alberta will be demanding help from the national government to pay for the toxic cleanup.

Kevin Taft's book, 'Oil's Deep State', elucidates on the connectivity between the Alberta government and the oil industry. In effect, up to the election of the NDP, oil industry and government personnel were interchangeable. Then the NDP took all of a few weeks to lock into the oil industry's agenda and follow their conservative opponent's 12-lane freeway of industry-biased policy.

What other province allows the private sector to run its only environmental regulatory agency? What other provincial government espouses "facts" from the so-easily dismantled baseless assumptions, errors and exaggerations of industry's published reports, such as those issued by CAPP? What other province parrots the worn and tired right-wing tendency toward bullying, lying and bombastic hubris, effectively substituting arrogance and condescension for intelligence and an honest search for truth?

One thing rings true about all this: Alberta will only hurt itself if it continues to be too busy berating others to notice the world is changing, and changing fast.

If Kenney is actually suing NGOs for defamation, they need to retaliate by doing the same. The gloves need to come off. It is way too late for half-measures. This man has surely become an enemy of our planet.
www.PlanetInPeril.ca

Of course this war room thing in Alberta is ridiculous to the extreme. I am confused by a government that wants tax dollars to subsidise the oil industry while at the same time collecting carbon taxes. Really, we must do one or the other. We collect carbon tax dollars and stop oil industry subsidies or do the opposite. The two seem somehow to counteract each other while both are paid for with our tax dollars. I would like to ask if other provinces can go after individuals or organizations that operate outside of their provincial boundaries if they don't like what these people are up to? What next for Alberta? The Klu Klux Clan?

Who says we are winning the battle with "fake news." www.PlanetInPeril.ca