Opinion: Columnists

Ron Arnold: Most Americans want Keystone, but does Obama care?

By |

Pew Research Center's new poll encouraged the gas price-conscious with its headline, "Keystone XL Pipeline Draws Broad Support," and a score box showing 63 percent supporting and only 23 percent opposing the pipeline that would transport oil from Canada's Alberta oil sands through the Plains states to refineries in Texas.

However, the report quickly deflated that optimism with a terse note identifying the minority: "except among liberals." We have seen time and again that the liberal 23 percent can be a majority to executive-order-wielding President Obama.

As his administration approaches a decision, lame-duck politics says he could go either way -- even with his own State Department's favorable environmental impact report on the XL's construction permit.

And even with Alberta Premier Alison Redford saying that an Obama rejection would damage U.S.-Canada relations. "Canada relies on the U.S. for 97 percent of its energy exports," Redford said, and "sees the new pipeline as critical to its economic well-being."

What is Obama likely to do? A substantial majority of Republicans (82 percent) favor the pipeline, so revenge is not an unthinkable motive for a possible rejection.

However, 70 percent of independents and 54 percent of Democrats also favor the XL. Fogging the crystal ball is the ideological split among Democrats: 60 percent of the party's conservatives and moderates support building the pipeline, compared to just 42 percent of liberal Democrats. That considerably flattens Obama's heavy-lifting slope toward a potential rejection, but doesn't level it.

Obama's decision may hinge on pleasing his base of global-warming advocates; this whole Keystone XL controversy was carefully conceived and organized as a "globally significant response" to global warming by shutting down Alberta's oil sands.

It was generated by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund using earmarked grants to recruit "a network of leading US and Canadian NGOs" with a "coordinated campaign structure" to act as its public face, according to a leaked PowerPoint presentation.

The Rockefeller funding for the campaign against Canadian energy exports was exposed in October 2010 by Vivian Krause in Toronto's Financial Post. Later that fall, Krause testified before a Canadian House of Commons committee, prompting an audit of the Canadian arm of the Tides Foundation by the Canada Revenue Agency (Canada's equivalent to the IRS). By Krause's calculations, Tides, a co-funder of the Rockefeller campaign, has distributed $19 million to anti-Keystone groups since 2008.

I spoke to Krause by telephone and asked why the Rockefeller presence behind the anti-XL campaign was virtually invisible. She told me that it has been done quietly but not secretly.

"The strategy is articulated in discussion papers, but who reads them?" she said. "The grants have been disclosed in online databases for years, but nobody bothered to add them up and connect the dots."

Nobody except Vivian Krause, that is. Her Twitter account says, "I follow the money & the science behind enviro campaigns." Her research and writing are impressive.

Her blog profile states, "I work from my dining room table, using Google on my own nickel. Not part of any political party, any industry, or any campaign." Her work deserves more attention in the United States.

Krause's discovery and expose of the Rockefeller millions behind the anti-Keystone XL campaign could become a factor in Obama's pipeline construction decision.

It has already created Canadian suspicion of environmental groups dancing on the strings of U.S. foundation money. It's not the money itself Canadians fear, it's the power over national energy policy that it can buy by proxy.

One can hope that Obama does not wish to be suspected of dancing on the same Rockefeller policy power strings as the Big Green bigwigs who were recently arrested protesting at his front door.

Examiner Columnist Ron Arnold is executive vice president of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise.

View article comments Leave a comment