Petrostate Watch: State Department Keystone XL Assessment Report Written By TransCanada Hiree

By: Obert Madondo | The Canadian Progressive | Mar 13, 2013:

Aerial view of a tar sands mine in Alberta.

Aerial view of a tar sands mine in Alberta.

The U.S. government lied to the American people – and the rest of us – about that Keystone XL tar sands pipeline assessment. The State Department’s Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) report on the proposed 875-mile long pipeline, which would ship up to 830,000 barrels of Canada‘s dirty tar sands oil per day from Alberta to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast, was not prepared by a neutral government official.

According to this Grist.org report and this Truth-out.org report, a private company hired by the pipeline’s owner, TransCanada Corp, authored the document.

From Grist.org:

The “sustainability consultancy” Environmental Resources Management (ERM) was paid an undisclosed amount under contract to TransCanada to write the 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 department’s contractor-written Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement even says the pipeline will be safe from the climate impacts to which it will contribute.

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). In a cover letter, Koster promises State Department NEPA Coordinator Genevieve Walker that ERM understands “the need for an efficient and expedited process to meet the demands of the desired project schedule.”

An investigation by Inside Climate News finds that ERM’s report draws from work done by other oil industry contractors, Ensys Energy and ICF International.

Because the impact statement was written by a TransCanada contractor, not by State Department officials, it should come as no surprise that it presents a worldview of a global economy inevitably dependent on dirty fossil fuels that is entirely at odds with the expressed views of Secretary of State John Kerry. MORE

Environmentalists have soundly condemned the report. In a statement, the Sierra Club said it was “mystified” and “outraged” by the “deeply flawed analysis”.

In the meantime, here are 5 things you need to know about the State Department’s Keystone XL environmental impact assessment.

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Obert Madondo

Publisher and editor
Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based blogger, activist, photographer, digital rights enthusiast, former political aide, and former international development administrator. He's the founder and editor of these independent publications: The Canadian Progressive, a political blog dedicated to progressive Canadian journalism; The Zimbabwean Progressive, a political blog dedicated to producing fearless, progressive, adversarial, unapologetic, and activism-oriented Zimbabwean journalism; and Charity Files, a publication dedicated to journalism in the charitable public's interest. Follow Obert on Twitter: @Obiemad