Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Inspector General Clears State Department of Conflict-of-Interest in Keystone XL Report

Energy
Inspector General Clears State Department of Conflict-of-Interest in Keystone XL Report

Yesterday, the inspector general concluded that the U.S. State Department did not violate conflict-of-interest rules with the selection of Environmental Resources Management (ERM) to conduct environmental assessments of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project, according to the L.A. Times.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told the L.A. Times that the inspector general “found that our processes not only avoided conflicts of interest, but were more rigorous than required.” 

The inspector general's findings are a blow to environmental groups and concerned citizen that have been working to stop the Keystone XL project.

The report came as blow to environmental groups and concerned citizens opposed to the controversial pipeline project. In October, as reported by EcoWatch, groups had urged Inspector General Steve Linick to conduct an investigation into the business ties between TransCanada—the company building the pipeline—and ERM.

The State Department released their Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) in January, determining that the pipeline would not increase the rate of extraction of tar sands and thus isn’t likely to significantly increase carbon emissions and climate change. Last June President Obama vowed he would only approve the Keystone XL pipeline if it “does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”

“It is disappointing that the Inspector General’s office chose to conduct such a narrow review of the FEIS process, especially given the important role that it will play in informing the President’s decision on the Keystone XL pipeline," said Tom Steyer, founder of NextGen Climate Action, in response the inspector general's announcement. "This was a missed opportunity to seriously investigate the integrity of the FEIS document and process.

"Additionally it ignores statements by the tar sands executives that the Keystone XL pipeline is the key to their ability to develop the tar sands. As I have said before, the FEIS is a flawed document, and it would be a disservice to President Obama and his legacy on climate change to rely on this report.”

Just this month the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth and Oil Change International published new evidence supporting the conflict-of-interest allegations and requested that the inspector general take steps to ensure that the flawed FEIS would be excluded from the agency’s National Interest Determination. The groups also filed a Freedom of Information Act Request to the State Department to unearth insider communications with the Canadian government and the oil industry in the weeks leading up to the release of its FEIS. 

Last year, Friends of the Earth and 350.org compiled an infographic detailing longstanding relationships ERM has in the oil industry, concluding:

"The State Department has repeatedly turned to contractors hand-picked by pipeline builder TransCanada. So it’s no wonder that the Canadian government, TransCanada, Congressional Republicans and the oil industry have all along all lavished praise on the State Department’s reviews of Keystone XL."

The 30-day public comment period will close March 7. The public and interested parties are encouraged to submit comments.

Visit EcoWatch’s KEYSTONE XL page for more related news on this topic.

A 3-hour special film by EarthxTV calls for protection of the Amazon and its indigenous populations. EarthxTV.org

To save the planet, we must save the Amazon rainforest. To save the rainforest, we must save its indigenous peoples. And to do that, we must demarcate their land.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivers a video speech at the high-level meeting of the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council UNHRC in Geneva, Switzerland on Feb. 22, 2021. Xinhua / Zhang Cheng via Getty Images

By Anke Rasper

"Today's interim report from the UNFCCC is a red alert for our planet," said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The report, released Friday, looks at the national climate efforts of 75 states that have already submitted their updated "nationally determined contributions," or NDCs. The countries included in the report are responsible for about 30% of the world's global greenhouse gas emissions.

Read More Show Less

Trending

New Delhi's smog is particularly thick, increasing the risk of vehicle accidents. SAJJAD HUSSAIN / AFP via Getty Images

India's New Delhi has been called the "world air pollution capital" for its high concentrations of particulate matter that make it harder for its residents to breathe and see. But one thing has puzzled scientists, according to The Guardian. Why does New Delhi see more blinding smogs than other polluted Asian cities, such as Beijing?

Read More Show Less
A bridge over the Delaware river connects New Hope, Pennsylvania with Lambertville, New Jersey. Richard T. Nowitz / Getty Images

In a historic move, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) voted Thursday to ban hydraulic fracking in the region. The ban was supported by all four basin states — New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York — putting a permanent end to hydraulic fracking for natural gas along the 13,539-square-mile basin, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Read More Show Less
Woodpecker

Colombia is one of the world's largest producers of coffee, and yet also one of the most economically disadvantaged. According to research by the national statistic center DANE, 35% of the population in Columbia lives in monetary poverty, compared to an estimated 11% in the U.S., according to census data. This has led to a housing insecurity issue throughout the country, one which construction company Woodpecker is working hard to solve.

Read More Show Less