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General News    H2'ed 2/14/14

Keystone XL Document Dump Reveals Obama Unconcerned About Global Warming, State Department Riddled with Oil Lobbyists

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The Friends Of the Earth (FOE) and Sierra Club (SC) released on February 12th, the results of their Freedom of Information Act requests from the State Department, concerning the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. Their document dump shows that while environmental organizations were being kept in the dark, the company that was proposing this Pipeline was regularly meeting with close aides to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. This occurred while the State Department's Environmental Impact Statement on that project was being prepared. It was being prepared not actually by the State Department, but by corporations that worked for the company that would be owning the Pipeline: TransCanada. President Obama at first declined to approve the pipeline for political reasons that had nothing to do with whether or not the project would significantly increase global warming. That seems not to have mattered to him. All three of the State Department's draft Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) focus on other matters than the proposed Pipeline's impact on global warming. The Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth are therefore now requesting the Inspector General of the State Department to investigate the matter, for apparent irregularities, and even possible violations of federal laws, especially concerning apparent indications that there was corruption in the preparation of these EIS's. The chief lobbyist for the company that would own the Pipeline is Paul Elliott, who had been selected partly because he had been the National Deputy Campaign Manager for Hillary Clinton's Presidential campaign in 2008

Previously, in 2011, Friends of the Earth had requested the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Mr. Elliott's lobbying activities with his former boss, but that request was ignored.

There also were many other close aides to Hillary Clinton who were working to expedite a favorable review of the proposed pipeline, such as Kerri-Ann Jones, whom Hillary's husband had first appointed in 1996, to be the Associate Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and whom Hillary chose to be her Assistant Secretary of State. Furthermore, Obama confidant Anita Dunn, and other Obama friends, and a few people with ties to current Secretary of State John Kerry, are also receiving money from TransCanada and working to win approval of the Pipeline.

In this new request by FOI and SC for an investigation, which is directed this time to the Office of Inspector General of the State Department, more evidence is cited of irregularities and suspicious cooperation between the State Department and TransCanada. This new letter focuses especially upon Environmental Resource Management (ERM), the oil industry contracting firm that TransCanada chose to produce the State Department's second draft Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed project (the one issued in March 2013). This letter says: 

"The State Department improperly selected ERM without conducting any independent inquiry into potential conflicts of interest, thus ignoring previous OIG [Office of the Inspector General] recommendations and its own Interim Guidance procedures."

"ERM made false and/or misleading statements to State Department regarding potential bias and conflicts of interest."

"ERM has extensive ties to the oil industry, including membership in multiple oil and gas industry trade organizations that support Keystone XL."

"ERM worked on another TransCanada project during the period covered by their conflict of interest disclosure statement, and has an extensive list of additional clients that stand to benefit from approval of the proposed pipeline, but failed to disclose these relationships."

"The State Department selected ERM based on TransCanada's recommendation."

"ERM gave false and/or misleading answers [on their application] ... and failed to disclose its business relationships."

"ERM has an extensive list of clients that would directly benefit from the approval of Keystone XL but failed to disclose any of these relationships."

"ERM staff had oil industry experience they failed to disclose."

"ERM failed to disclose its membership in numerous oil & gas trade associations."

"The State Department failed to conduct any independent inquiry into ERM as required."

"The Department of State attempted to conceal ERM's past relationships with TransCanada."

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that (more...)
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