: Groups Charge State Department Concealed Information and Conflict of Interest by Keystone XL Contractor: EPA Rates Review “Insufficient”
Monday, April 22, 2013
Eddie Scher, Sierra Club, 415-977-5758
Washington, DC The State Department’s latest attempt at conducting an environmental review for the Keystone XLK pipeline project faced criticism today from both environmental groups and the US Environmental Protection Agency.
EPA submitted an objection to the State Department rating the review “insufficient” for failing to adequately consider greenhouse gas emissions, pipeline safety, and community and environmental justice impacts.
Additionally, ten public interest groups called on the Department of State Inspector General to investigate evidence that the agency concealed a consultant’s past relationship with TransCanada, the company behind the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The consultant provided false answers to the State Department about employees relationship with TransCanada, which the State Department ignored. Environmental Resources Management, Inc. (ERM) was hired by the State Department to draft the third environmental review of the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
In February 2012 a State Department Inspector General investigation into the previous Keystone XL proposal environmental review found that the State Department is responsible for certifying that a contractor does not have conflicts of interest that would bias the review. The Inspector General recommended that the agency redesign its review process for potential contractors to prevent the hiring of consultants with ties to oil companies.
The disclosure that the State Department attempted to conceal that ERM employees worked with the pipeline permit applicant, TransCanada, violates the agency’s conflict-of-interest guidelines and once again calling into question the review of a project that has been plagued by evidence of oil industry bias.
The ten groups submitting joint comments on the environmental review today are: Bold Nebraska, Center for Biological Diversity, Environment America, Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nebraska Farmers’ Union, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, and 350.org.