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Troubling New Scandal Emerges in Keystone XL Saga

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?

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Image via chesapeakeclimate

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99 comments

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11:27AM PDT on Apr 13, 2014

Click on the second paragraph of this article, "especially Obama" which is highlighted. It takes you to another article that concludes that Obama and his administration are not going to act on Keystone XL until after the mid term elections. Sad, but I believe is unfortunately true.

2:39PM PST on Jan 21, 2014

Well, now the Canadian government is pressing Obama to fish or go home. Hopefully he'll go home. But if he doesn't, the major clout that we, as Americans truly have, is to simply QUIT using so much oil - whether to heat our homes, jet to the local Burger King, make that 5th trip this week to the grocery store, or commute alone to work. Usage goes down, prices go down, projects get shelved. Even better if we can all replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources and let the oil companies hang.

10:15PM PST on Jan 13, 2014

Why is anyone surprised that this is happening? Big Oil runs the US government. It does not matter which Party is in office.

3:18PM PST on Jan 13, 2014

Noted

2:34AM PST on Jan 11, 2014

The last of the right-wing talking points about the Keystone XL is that it helps our "energy independence".

Now, almost anyone you will understand that IMPORTING oil from another nation can, by definition, NEVER add to the "energy independence" of our nation.

So, there is another set of fossil-fuel industry advertisements that claims that the Keystone XL is good for the "North American energy independence", and they often add that the Keystone XL will make us less dependent on "foreign nations that don't share our values" or "the Middle East" or "hostile" or "unstable nations".

OK. Here it gets interesting, and we need to look at EIA data to debunk that argument.
The US is importing some 2 million bpd of oil from the Middle East. Meanwhile, we are EXPORTING some 3.8 million bpd in refined products, and this number is going up quickly:
http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=PET&s=MTTEXUS2&f=M
Reason is that the are actually increasing our domestic oil production, while reducing our domestic oil consumption (due to increased fuel efficiency of our vehicle fleet, for example due to Obama's CAFE standards). Refineries thus are looking abroad to sell their products.

So not just is it untrue that the Keystone XL will not add to our energy independence, in fact we are already energy independent from "unstable nations", by a long shot.

Which debunks the last argument that the Big Oil tar-sand companies and billionaire refinery owners have been p

8:39PM PST on Jan 8, 2014

What is truly troubling is that Chapter 11 of NAFTA allows for corporations or economic elites to sue governments that implement legislation that inhibits business plans. This means that even if we activist have an impact and get legislation passed, it can be voided and our tax money taken by these corporations.

Now we are looking at a Pacific Trade Agreement that would take more power for a democratic process and transfer that to private arbitration.

6:27AM PST on Jan 6, 2014

Thanks

6:26AM PST on Jan 6, 2014

# 92

5:14AM PST on Jan 6, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

1:28PM PST on Jan 5, 2014

Thanks. I can't tell you how much I hate that Keystone Pipeline and all the trouble and drama it's causing.

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