Troubling New Scandal Emerges in Keystone XL Saga
I’ve been writing about the controversial Keystone XL pipeline expansion since my first days at Care2. And for better or for worse, I’m still writing about it.
On one hand, I’m happy that the full pipeline, which extend from Canada to the Gulf Coast, still hasn’t fully materialized (though oil is already flowing through the Keystone XL’s southernmost portion). To do so would be a climate death sentence. On the other hand, each year the fight waxes on, I grow more frustrated that our political leaders, especially Obama, refuse to block the project once and for all.
The number of compelling reasons to do so seems to grow by the day.
First came the revelation, way back in 2011, that TransCanada blatantly lied about the number of jobs that would be created by building the Keystone XL. Then there are the horrific threats to endangered wildlife, both in the U.S. and Canada. Then, in 2012 came the news that contrary to industry rhetoric, building the Keystone XL would increase American gas prices, rather than suppress them. In early 2013, we saw photographic proof that parts of the pipeline were already being buried, despite being full of holes (sounds real safe, huh?). Then came the troubling, but not entirely surprising news that the State Department’s Environmental Impact Assessment (which gave the Keystone XL a big green light) was not prepared by any neutral government officials, but rather by a private company in the employ of the pipeline’s owner.
Now, as 2013 draws to a close, yet another scandal has emerged in a Keystone XL saga that drips with corruption and collusion. Politico reports that, in addition to being on TransCanada’s payroll, “A contractor that worked on the State Department’s environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline is a member of several energy industry groups that have urged the government to support the project.”
It turns out that the London-based firm Environmental Resources Management (which helped the State Department draft the review) is a member of the all-powerful American Petroleum Institute, which has spent more than $6 million on all lobbying issues in 2013 alone.
In mid-December, Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva sent a letter co-signed by 24 other House Democratic colleagues to President Obama highlighting serious corporate conflicts of interest in the preparation of the pending Keystone XL environmental impact statement.
It only takes a tiny bit of common sense to see that there’s a conflict of interest here, which is why we’ve seen some unlikely candidates – from Nebraskan ranchers to gold caddies — joining the Keystone XL protest.
“They can’t seem to tell the most basic truth about their affiliations and work history,” Ross Hammond, senior campaigner with the anti-Keystone, environmental nonprofit Friends of the Earth, told Politico, raising the question of why on Earth we should believe them when it comes to the safety, efficacy and economic impact of the Keystone XL?
Image via chesapeakeclimate