THE BLOG

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

02/24/2014 05:52 pm ET | Updated Apr 15, 2014

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."

In President Obama's original rejection of the Keystone project, on 18 January 2012 (after Hillary Clinton's first draft EIS, which had been done by another firm chosen by TransCanada), he said "I have determined ... that the Keystone XL pipeline project, as presented and analyzed at this time, would not serve the national interest." He did not mention global warming as a reason for rejecting it.

On 7 October 2011, The New York Times had already raised public concerns when they headlined "Pipeline Review Is Faced With Question of Conflict," and reported that Hillary Clinton's first draft EIS on Keystone was prepared by Cardno Entrix, the first firm that had been selected by TransCanada. If President Obama was rejecting the pipeline now because that choice had been untrustworthy, then the subsequent Clinton-State-Department-produced draft EIS, from ERM, was no better. Unfortunately, the third and final one, from Secretary of State John Kerry's State Department, is not much better than Clinton's were.

However, buried on page 64 of "Appendix W" in Secretary Clinton's second draft version was an admission that the prior scientific studies of the impact of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline had estimated that there would be something on the order of an additional half-billion metric tons of carbon dioxide added to this planet's atmosphere if the pipeline is built and used, as compared to if it's not built and used. If President Obama really cares about global warming (such as his public rhetoric has indicated), then he can simply trash the reports from his State Department, and reject this project with finality, because it will add considerably to the heating-up of this planet. On the other hand, why would he do such a thing, since he is trying to force the European Union to weaken their anti-global-warming regulations so as to enable them to import Alberta Canada's tar-sands oil, half of which is owned by the Koch brothers, David and Charles, plus, according to Tim Dickenson in Rolling Stone, Bill Koch, who has his own separate company eagerly awaiting approval of Keystone XL.

----------