An oil sands industry document published by Wikileaks show that industry leaders have been feeling the pressure from environmental activists for years, to such an extent that the industry has created strategies to deal with opposition to their plans.

Within the document, industry consultants revealed their fear that the “anti-tar sands push could become ‘the most significant environmental campaign of the decade’ if activists were left unopposed,” reports Katherine Bagley of InsideClimate News.

A December 2010 PowerPoint presentation by Strategic Forecasting, a global intelligence firm based in Austin, Texas, identifies about two-dozen leaders in the anti-oil sands movement and places each of them into one of four categories: radicals, idealists, realists, and opportunists. The document outlines “campaign tactics” of environmental groups and opponents to the dirty energy oil sands, or tar sands, industry, and how to combat these “tactics.”

One slide notes that “activists place pressure on corporations” to adopt safe, environmentally-sound practices that exceed corporations’ minimum requirements under the law. Another states that “Activists lack influence in politics.” However, the presentation is evidence that, while the dirty energy industry has never been halted by opposition in the past, companies are genuinely concerned about strong opposition to the oil sands movement.

“This worst-case scenario [for the industry] is exactly what has happened,” Mark Floegel, a senior investigator for Greenpeace, told InsideClimate News. “The more people see Superstorm Sandys or tornadoes in Chicago, the more they are waking up and joining the fight.”

The difficult processes of tar sands extraction and, subsequently, turning bitumen into crude oil use massive amounts of energy and water and cause three times the global warming pollution of conventional crude oil production. In Alberta, Canada, oil companies are buying up hundreds to thousands of acres of wild, boreal forest and wetlands that contain deposits of crude bitumen.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), “The rush to strip-mine and drill tar sands in the boreal will destroy and fragment millions of acres of this wild forest for low-grade petroleum fuel.”

Across the country, opposition to the oil sands industry has been building. Environmental advocates were successful in raising awareness about the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, a project that, along with other tar sands industry growth, would significantly contribute to global warming as well as commit the US and other countries to a difficult-to-process form of heavy bitumen that is worse than conventional crude.

But, according to InsideClimate News, the leaked presentation isn’t really a surprise. Over the past few years, there have been other examples of the oil sands industry responding to opposition from the public. This summer, TransCanada Corp., the Canadian company responsible for the Keystone XL pipeline, prepped law enforcement officers for prosecuting anti-Keystone protestors, E&E Publishing reports.

In 2011, Range Resources, the fracking company that recently sued a Texas man for defamation (after he posted a Youtube video showing that the company had contaminated his drinking water supply), hired Army and Marine veterans with combat experience in psychological warfare to “deal with” people in communities in which the company has drilling operations.

According to a report by DeSmogBlog, one speaker at the “Media & Stakeholder Relations: Hydraulic Fracturing Initiative 2011” conference in Houston told oil and gas PR representatives in the audience to “download the US Army/ Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Manual, because ‘we are dealing with an insurgency.’” A representative for Range Resources told the audience “We have several former PSYOPs folks that work for us at Range because they’re comfortable in dealing with localized issues and governments.”


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Via: InsideClimate News

Alisha is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow her on Twitter @childoftheearth.