WASHINGTON – The Environmental Protection Agency’s stinging critique of the State Department’s latest review of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is more evidence that State’s ability to objectively review the project has been compromised by pipeline lobbyists’ with close ties to the Obama Administration, Friends of the Earth said.
In its official comments on State’s draft environmental impact statement, EPA highlighted many of the criticisms that Friends of the Earth and 15 other environmental and public interest groups raised Monday in a submission to the State Department. EPA and the groups both called out State’s glossing over of the risk of serious spills, its finding that the tar sands would be fully exploited whether or not the pipeline is built, and its failure to adequately consider the impact of toxic emissions from refineries on the health of communities in the Gulf.
“The EPA’s critique highlights the growing lack of confidence in the ability of the State Department to handle the review process in an impartial and even-handed manner,” said Ross Hammond, senior campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “Since TransCanada first applied for the permit in 2008, the State Department’s handling of the issue has been plagued by conflicts of interest, insider influence and a heavy pro-pipeline bias. The State Department has effectively lost control of the review process and is allowing TransCanada to call the shots, regardless of the major risks to the environment that the pipeline poses,” said Hammond. Last week, Friends of the Earth issued a Freedom of Information Act request to the State Department in an attempt to learn more about the web of lobbyists with ties to Obama and Kerry that TransCanada and the Province of Alberta have hired to try to rush approval of the pipeline.
The State Department’s draft environmental statement was written by a consulting firm that lists TransCanada as a client, a fact that State Department officials attempted to cover up. Friends of the Earth and other groups are demanding that the State Department’s Inspector General investigate the agency’s attempt to conceal the firm’s past relationship with TransCanada.
“The State Department has proven that it is incapable of conducting an objective review of the Keystone pipeline,” says Damon Moglen, director of the climate and energy program at Friends of the Earth. “It’s time for Secretary Kerry to hit the reset button on Keystone by throwing out this flawed review and launching an investigation into how such an important review could be highjacked by a foreign corporation.”
Ross Hammond, (415) 559-5082, email@example.com