New revelations show Keystone XL contractors ties to oil booster groups
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Politico reports this morning that Environmental Resources Management, the London-based firm hired by the State Department to do key parts of the environmental review of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, is a member of five oil industry booster groups that have advocated for the approval of the pipeline and have spent millions lobbying for it.
The groups include American Petroleum Institute, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, and Western Energy Alliance, all of whom signed a letter to Congress calling for approval of the pipeline. API is believed to have spent upwards of $16 million lobbying for the pipeline since 2011.
It has been established through investigations that ERM lied on its application for the Keystone XL contract, saying that it had “no direct or indirect relationship … with any business entity that could be affected in any way by the proposed work.” In truth, ERM worked with TransCanada, the company behind Keystone XL, on the Alaska Pipeline Project during the period covered by the conflicts of interest declaration (2009-2012) as well as with over a dozen oil companies with a direct stake in whether Keystone XL gets built.
It appears State Department did not follow guidelines issued by its Inspector General in 2012 following controversy over a previous Keystone XL contractor, Cardno Entrix. Rather than coming clean about the fact that ERM lied on its application, State Department employees have attempted to cover up ERM’s ties to the oil industry. These revelations have led to a new Inspector General inquiry which is scheduled to be completed in February.
Ross Hammond, senior campaigner with Friends of the Earth said: “Serious questions must be asked how ERM was even hired in the first place when it’s clear that ERM lied on its application and has a blatant conflict of interest. ERM not only has a previous business relationship with TransCanada and over a dozen oil companies but now we know that it also belongs to several oil booster groups who have lobbied furiously to make sure this pipeline is built. These conflicts of interest raise serious questions about the objectivity of the State Department’s environmental review of this dirty and dangerous pipeline.”
Last Thursday, 25 House members sent President Obama a letter requesting that President Obama intervene to make sure that the State Department not finalize its environmental review of Keystone XL until its Inspector General office completes its investigation into ERM’s conflicts of interest.
More on this is in Politico.
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