Oilies sink to a new low: “Ethical” tar sands

The oil industry is notorious for putting profits above honesty, but if you needed a reminder just view the ad below (or don’t, if you don’t like being outraged). It’s a pitch for “ethical oil” from Alberta’s tar sands, which it says is our only hope for stopping the oppression of Saudi Arabian women.


Others have written plenty about the enormous threat posed by tar sands, so I won’t go into detail here — suffice to say that it’s an incredibly dirty, dangerous resource that accelerates global warming much faster than “traditional” oil. But it’s worth pointing out that mining tar sands won’t slow down Middle Eastern production at all, and it won’t reduce US dependence on foreign oil. If Saudi oil is contributing to oppression, the obvious answer seems to be to invest in renewable energy and efficiency, not to destroy Canada’s boreal forests.

My favorite part of the ad? At the end, a banner comes up that reads “Help keep this ad on the air. Visit ethicaloil.org and make a donation today.”

Yeah, you read that right! Only your modest donations can keep the flame burning…never mind that the folks behind this could afford a Scrooge McDuck-style swimming pool filled with gold coins. I mean that literally: the “big five” oil companies are making more money than anyone has, ever, and TransCanada Corp. (the company behind the tar sands pipeline) is planning to spend $7 billion to get its product to market.

I was at Saturday’s rally in front of the White House, where over a thousand people were arrested for protesting the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry Canadian oil sludge to the Texas Gulf coast for export. The Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein was a guest speaker, and she demolished the “ethical” claim in her moving speech:

Ethical oil” is not an oxymoron—it’s an outrage. It is an insult. It is an insult to the indigenous communities living downstream from the tar sands. It is an insult to the people who are on the front lines of climate change…whether it’s people living in island nations like the Maldives and Tuvalu, facing cultural extinction; whether it’s people living in countries dependent on melting glaciers like Bolivia. They dare to speak to us of ethics.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctwgcBe8Bzs[/youtube]

She’s right, and these frauds should be ashamed of themselves. If you really want to do something for women, make a donation to Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, or any of a thousand other organizations who are actually making a difference. And if you’re as ticked off as I am after seeing that ad, TAKE ACTION and speak out against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.


Learn more about NWF’s work to protect wildlife from the Keystone XL pipeline here.