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MoPOP at dusk, Seattle

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Keystone


Both environmentalists and fossil fuel advocates have been waiting with baited breath for President Obama's final decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, a pet project of Obama's State Department. Now comes word that there might have been some shenanigans and false disclosures by the company hired to do the supplemental assessment of the pipeline E.I.R., the consultant group Environmental Resources Management.

According to the Friends of the Earth, ERM signed a conflict disclosure form, specifically one Senior Associate Partner Steve Koster, PE, which states, “ERM has no business relationship with TransCanada or its affiliates, and in the attached is certifying that no conflict of interest exists for working on this Project.” 

But maybe that is not really true.
“In fact, ERM’s own publicly available documents show that the firm has business with over a dozen companies with operating stakes in the Alberta tar sands.”But Friends of the Earth’s review of Environmental Resources Management’s business connections found that, in fact, ERM and TransCanada have worked together at least since 2011 on another pipeline – the Alaska Pipeline Project, a partnership between ExxonMobil and TransCanada designed to connect Alaska’s North Slope natural gas resources to new markets."
This is not the first time that there has been conflict of interest charges regarding the project.
The SEIS was required because the State Department’s Final Environmental Impact Statement, FEIS, written by contract consultant Cardno Enterix and issued in August 2011, did not cover a change to the route through Nebraska to avoid the environmentally sensitive Sand Hills region over the Oglalla Aquifer. In February 2012, this FEIS was  criticized for conflict of interest in a report by the State Department’s own Inspector General. 
And maybe even a coverup.
"In recent weeks, as calls grew louder for an investigation of the numerous conflicts of interest tainting the State Department's handling of the Keystone proposal, an ERM employee tried to cover up his work for the Alaska Pipeline Project, a partnership between ExxonMobil and TransCanada." 
Of course, not everybody sees the relationship between the companies as exactly a problem. Listen to this guy's semantical histrionics over at Forbes. Talk about doublespeak.

I have seen other apologists make the case that there was no competent consultant in the field that did not have some relationship with the oil company. That is understandable - does it mean that all that legal stuff is now somehow redundant?

I think that the fix has been in on this thing for a long time. Follow the money. Our leader is trying to find the right moment when he can safely cave. I think probably a long weekend friday afternoon, but what do I know?

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