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Fraud at State?

By       Message William Boardman     Permalink
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2.   ICF International  (7 preparers) -- the company's website client list is generic, and all categories are within the oil and gas industry.  [6]ICF[6] recently won an award for its work in "Climate Risk Management and Adaptation" for such clients as coastal cities, the World Bank, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.  ICF has more than 60 offices worldwide, employing more than 4,500 people.  The company refused to talk to a reporter. 

3.   ERM, Environmental Resources Management (45 preparers) -- [7]the company[7] lists clients from a wide variety of fields, including the oil industry (Chevron, Shell, Statoil, and Total).   ERM's clients include more than half of all Global Fortune 500 companies.  The company has over 4,700 people working more than 140 offices in 39 different countries. 

Wait, TransCanada Assessed the Impact of Its Own Pipeline?  

Also on March 6, Brad Johnson at Grist moved [8]the story[8] from obvious conflict of interest to something that begins to smack of fraud, at least where ERM is involved.  Under the headline "'State Department' Keystone XL Report Actually Written by TransCanada Contractor," Johnson links to the [9]contract[9] and [10]supporting documents[10] that lead him to conclude: 

The "sustainability consultancy" Environmental Resources Management (ERM) was paid an undisclosed amount  under contract to TransCanada  to write the [environmental impact] statement, which is now an official government document.  The statement estimates, and then dismisses, the pipeline's massive  carbon footprint  and other environmental impacts, because, it asserts, the mining and burning of the tar sands is unstoppable". 

The documents from the ERM-TransCanada agreement are on the State Department's website, but payment amounts and other clients and past work of ERM are redacted. In the  contract documents , ERM partner Steven J. Koster certifies that his company has no conflicts of interest. He also certifies that ERM has  no business relationship  with TransCanada or "any business entity that could be affected in any way by the proposed work" (notwithstanding the impact statement contract itself)". 

On March 7, ThinkProgress [11]summarized[11] the stories by Song and Johnson, adding a detail indicating that this kind of deception was not a new pattern for TransCanada or the State Dept.:  "Several years ago, Cardno Entrix, another private consultancy,  was contracted  by TransCanada to handle the State Department's initial draft of the environmental impact statement, the Department's hearings on the pipeline, and even its Keystone XL website.

N.Y. Times Favors Climate Over Pipeline 

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Without mentioning the State Dept. report's shady underpinnings, the New York Times took two strong shots against approval of the Keystone pipeline -- first in a [12]column[12] by Thomas Friedman on March 9, "No to Keystone.  Yes to Crazy." Friedman uncharacteristically urged protestors to "go crazy" --

I'm talking chain-themselves-to-the-White-House-fence-stop-traffic-at-the-Capitol kind of crazy, because I think if we all make enough noise about this, we might be able to trade a lousy Keystone pipeline for some really good systemic responses to climate change. 

The next day, the Times struck again, this time with an [13]editorial[13] urging President Obama to deny a permit to Keystone: 

He should say no, and for one overriding reason: A president who has repeatedly identified climate change as one of humanity's most pressing dangers cannot in good conscience approve a project that -- even by the State Department's most cautious calculations -- can only add to the problem.

Add the likelihood that the State Dept. report is likely a collusive fraud doesn't really improve the pipeline's case. 

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And guess what?  The State Dept. position today is the same position officially expressed some 18 months ago during a press briefing related to an earlier Keystone report, when Assistant Secretary Kerri-Ann Jones [14]told[14] reporters: 

I think that the sense is we have that this oil sands is going to be developed and therefore, there's not going to be any dramatic change in greenhouse gas from this pipeline, or if the pipeline was to go forward or without the pipeline, because the oil sands will continue to be developed and there are alternatives to pipelines to moving that fuel or potential crude around. 

In other words, the government just spent however many million dollars to get oil industry consultants to come to the same conclusion the government already held in August 2011.  No wonder this story is beginning to get some traction. 

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Vermonter living in Woodstock: elected to five terms (served 20 years) as side judge (sitting in Superior, Family, and Small Claims Courts); public radio producer, "The Panther Program" -- nationally distributed, three albums (at CD Baby), some (more...)

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