| Deadline Friday: Tell the State Department to reject Keystone XL.
We’ve suspected for quite a while that the State Department was biased towards approving the Keystone XL pipeline.1
But if there was any remaining doubt, it has been shattered.
Evidence is piling up that the State Department has maintained a corrupt and biased “review” process, including cozy ties between State Department officials and TransCanada lobbyists, and — incredibly — allowing a company employed by TransCanada to conduct the environmental review and public hearing processes.
The State Department is accepting final public comments on the Keystone XL pipeline until Friday. We need a flood of comments to call out their blatant bias, and send a strong message to President Obama to reject this project.
The Keystone XL Pipeline asks America to endure great risks in a desperate attempt to maintain our reliance on damaging fossil fuels.
But rather than conducting a thorough, good-faith review of this dangerous project, in a stunning conflict of interest, the State Department handed over the environmental review and public hearing process to a company called CARDNO Entrix, a contractor literally working for pipeline developer TransCanada!2
Cardno ENTRIX worked previously for BP to conduct the environmental review of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that exploded in the gulf last year.3
Since the Bush Administration, Cardno ENTRIX has been working on behalf of the State Department to evaluate Keystone XL. Their woefully inadequate inadequate environmental review of the project was finalized by the State Department a few weeks ago, despite the EPA raising numerous concerns and warning that the review was “insufficient.”4
Their so-called “State Department hearings” were similarly biased. According to numerous reports from the more than 300 CREDO members who attended the hearings, and many other activists, the Cardno ENTRIX representatives running the public hearings consistently gave the first few hours of speaking spots to oil-industry workers who were bussed in from out-of-state, and were paid to wait in line starting early in the morning. Only when pipeline opponents began speaking, did the moderators start enforcing stricter time limits.
An 85-year-old CREDO Activist had to go home after waiting for five hours at the Lincoln, Nebraska hearing, and never had the opportunity to speak. She wrote us that “It was the poorest excuse for a hearing I’ve ever witnessed.” According to another participant at the hearing in Austin “This was not a hearing, this was a farce.”5
This bias has pervaded the entire Keystone XL process. But it’s still up to President Obama, and we need to send him a strong message now on the illegitimacy of the State Department’s review.
On top of all of this, numerous emails released by our friends at Friends of the Earth reveal shockingly cozy relationships between State Department officials and lobbyists for the Canadian pipeline company TransCanada.
One of the lobbyists is a man named Paul Elliot, who previously served as the Deputy Campaign Manager on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 Presidential campaign. State Department officials cheered Elliot on as he convinced one Senator to endorse the pipeline project,6 and even appear to have coached Elliot and other TransCanada staff about how to build their case for approval, and even how to respond to questions and concerns about pipeline safety and environmental impact.7
The State Department has a solemn obligation to the people of this country to conduct an impartial evaluation of the impacts of this pipeline. Instead, officials appear to be acting in cahoots with the foreign company they are supposed to be evaluating.
Even if the State Department drops the ball, President Obama still has the power to lead. This final public comment period is a crucial opportunity to show that the State Department is working for TransCanada’s interest, not our national interest — and send a message that this pipeline must be rejected.
Thanks for fighting Keystone XL.
Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
1. Hillary Clinton’s comments did refer to Keystone XL pipeline Journal Star, October 21, 2010.