A polluted process: Keystone XL, the State Department and conflicts of interest
As proponents threaten debt showdown, Obama awaits outcome of tainted review
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In their latest reckless gambit, Republicans in Congress are threatening to shut down the government unless President Obama fast-tracks approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. The White House insists the President won’t make a decision until the State Department finishes the “transparent and rigorous process” of reviewing the pipeline’s impact. But just how “transparent and rigorous” has the State Department’s review really been?
“The truth is that from Day 1, the review of the pipeline has been polluted by conflicts of interest, insider lobbying and the influence of the oil industry,” said Ross Hammond, senior campaigner with Friends of the Earth. “The State Department’s draft environmental review is not an objective assessment, but a piece of pro-pipeline propaganda concocted by a consultant that never met a Big Oil project it didn’t like.”
To illuminate State Department shameful handling of the pipeline’s review Friends of the Earth and 350.org today released a detailed timeline showing how the State Department has repeatedly turned to contractors hand-picked by pipeline builder TransCanada.
Following scandals with the first two environmental reviews, the job was given to Environmental Resources Management, which lied on its conflict of interest disclosure form when it said it had no business relationship with TransCanada or other oil companies with a stake in the tar sands. ERM’s lies, and its longstanding deep connections with the global petroleum industry, have led to an inquiry by the State Department’s inspector general, which is expected to be done early next year. Follow the trail of the tainted process, and it’s clear that the pipeline’s review has been severely compromised at every turn.
“The president already has all the information that he needs to reject Keystone XL,” said Daniel Kessler, U.S. communications director for 350.org. “An oil pipeline, by definition, results in greater emissions. That’s the whole point to the project and it’s why the president will say no.”
“The Keystone XL pipeline will increase global warming, pose a risk to clean water and farmland along its 1,700 mile route from Alberta to the Gulf Coast, provide fewer than three dozen permanent jobs, and most of its oil will not end up in Americans’ gas tanks but will be exported overseas, said Hammond. “The bottom line: it’s not in the national interest, and President Obama should reject it.”
Ross Hammond, Friends of the Earth, 415-559-5082
Daniel Kessler, 350.org, 510-501-1779