pipeline, the high volumes that are transported, for instance

they can profit through the transportation of bitumen through the effective and
required rail tank cars11. With an unreliable history of railway
transportation, the transportation of bitumen has environmental concerns as
when bitumen spills into a body of water floats and evaporates. Thus, it may
present health and explosion hazards. Bitumen also has weathering effects if
it’s not immediately removed, therefore, the possibility of sunken oil increases.

This has important implications for spill response as not only is spill
response not quick and efficient, but there are a few techniques for detection,
containment and recovery of submerged oil. Further, the effects of bitumen are
not understood which is extremely dangerous due to the high volumes that are
transported, for instance 890,000 barrels are transported per day through
Jasper National Park21.

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conclusion, although the Tides Foundation claims to serve as a platform to
connect corporate, individual and foundation donors with non-profit
organizations, it essentially obscures millions of dollars under tax exempt
status and allows for an anonymous way for the rich and powerful to influence
the discourse among NGOs. The role of Tides Foundation shows the dangers of
philanthrocapitalism and the negative influence on the agenda of NGOs as
accountability changes to funders instead of populations they claim to assist.

Through funnelling millions from his foundation to the Tides Foundation, Warren
Buffett was able to influence the agendas of NGO’s to solely focus on the
Keystone XL pipeline. Stopping the Keystone XL pipeline would allow for
Buffett’s investment in Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad to be profitable
since the railway would serve as the mode of transportation instead of the
pipeline. Therefore, the opposition against Keystone XL pipeline is surprising since
it’s such a small project in relation to the entire Keystone pipeline amongst other
pipelines. However, when the pipeline negatively affects some of the richest
and most powerful investors such as Buffett and Bill Gates, it isn’t surprising
to understand the connection between the pipeline and “donations” of millions
of dollars to groups opposing it. Merely stopping the pipeline doesn’t put an
end to the increasing extraction and transportation of crude oil. It is important
to understand that the campaign to “save our planet” isn’t entirely discussing
the problems ruining our planet because NGO’s are too busy pleasing their stakeholders.


Recommendations for change

non-profit organizations have stood against the Keystone XL pipeline because of
the detrimental effects on the environment, wild life and communities such as Indigenous
populations. However, the discourse among the NGOs being limited to the
Keystone XL pipeline is critical as it only follows the agendas of
stakeholders. They failed to discuss the creeping dangers of using railway
transportation instead of pipelines, the transportation of bitumen by railways
for the effective usage of the pipelines and a larger discourse about the
polluting extraction methods of tar sands.

It’s time
to make real demands, hold corporations accountable for their damages, provide
reparations to communities such as Indigenous people that have been affected
for years as well as demand for the government to increase regulation on the production,
extraction and purification of crude oil. If the corporation paid what they owe
to society, then money-laundering foundations such as the Tides Foundation that
claim to fight for social justice wouldn’t even be necessary.

Einstein said, “problems cannot be solved with the same mind-set that created
them”11. NGO’s need stand up for the people they seek to represent
instead of being accountable to their stakeholders that are the capitalist
forces that created social inequalities and damaged the environment to begin
with. Activists need to highlight the ways tax exempt dollars are spent to
further political and financial agendas under the guise of philanthropism.  

 Recently, the Trump Administration overturned
the previous decision to stop the pipeline extension construction22.

This decision brings the issue about the pipeline again for environmental
advocacy groups who are concerned about the negative environmental and societal
impacts. This development is especially concerning due to a large spill in the
Keystone pipeline of approximately 5,000-barrels in South Dakota23. Seeing
the imminent dangers of the pipelines, advocacy groups should fight against the
construction of the Keystone XL pipeline however while not losing sight of the
dangers of crude oil extraction from tar sands, the increasing use of railways
for transportation of this oil and the implications of transporting diluent
bitumen. They should seize the opportunity to voice against the tar sands
corporations that are exploiting the earth, environment, and health of people
for their profits


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