The Calgary Herald editorializes:
Two words best describe Tom Steyer, the California billionaire who has made it a personal crusade to attack Canada’s oilsands: opportunistic and hypocritical.
Steyer is a self-styled environmentalist who once ran Farallon Capital Management, and made his estimated $1.4-billion fortune in part from investments in the energy industry.
His latest effort, $1 million in new attack ads on American television about the oilsands, is a combination of myth, halftruths and narrow-minded nationalism. In one line from his website, Steyer asserts that the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline “will make up to $4 billion in profits for foreign oil companies and drive foreign economies, but do nothing for (the United States).”
Actually, 4,000 American jobs are already being created in the construction of the American leg of TransCanada’s Gulf Coast pipeline project, and more jobs would be created in future if the Keystone pipeline is fully built. But perhaps on-the-ground engineering, roughneck and blue-collar jobs are not the type a San Francisco billionaire thinks are real.
There is grand hypocrisy here, given that Steyer himself was invested in a plethora of international (“foreign”!) corporations and which made billions in profits over the years. Last year, Farallon was betting that oilsands producer Nexen Inc. would be taken over by China’s CNOOC Ltd., so it is a highly dubious tack to attack others for hoping to make a buck off oil.
As for the anti-foreigner angle, Steyer, a left-wing partisan Democrat, no doubt thinks of himself as a liberal, open-minded, tolerant sort of fellow. But anyone who uses the rhetoric of “foreign” is in fact a narrow-minded nativist, not an example of someone able to think beyond their own country’s borders.
After making his money in part from energy, and in part from foreign corporations, Steyer recently said he “no longer felt comfortable being at a firm that was invested in every single sector of the global economy, including tarsands and oil.”
That is rich. Steyer is akin to the Rockefeller Foundation, which has bankrolled anti-energy industry activism for years. This is the same Rockefeller Foundation and family whose wealth was derived from its patriarch. John D. Rockefeller – he of Standard Oil fame – made his successive generations rich by getting oil out of the ground in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Anyone who claims to be “uncomfortable” with how they or their ancestors made their money would actually do the hard thing and divest themselves completely of their family wealth (Rockefellers) or their own wealth (Steyer).
Of course, if they took such drastic action, they might then need to obtain a real job. We have a suggestion: they could always do what hardworking men and women from Alberta, Newfoundland, British Columbia and even a few expatriate Americans do: find employment in Canada’s oilsands. If they did so, they might learn what so many others have discovered: the oilsands are a technological marvel and a blessing, not a curse to mankind, with a product that helps power economies and heat homes in Canada and the United States.
However, we doubt selfstyled advocates would ever be willing to give up their massive fortunes, much less engage in physical work and have an open mind about how wrong in fact and in focus they already are.
That is the most egregious part of Steyer’s activism: he is out to kill jobs and the incomes of families that produce a product that helps citizens around the world live better lives. Oil allows our modern transportation system to deliver fresh fruits and vegetables to those in nonfarm areas, to deliver medical equipment to clinics in Africa – this on ships powered by the product. The Steyers of the world are stuck in some self-imposed silo of ignorance with no understanding of the specifics of Canada’s oil, nor even an acknowledgment of the importance of oil to modern life.