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Keystone XL: The “Obama Pipeline”? [Video]


The “Obama pipeline” as a possible description of the Keystone XL pipeline is employed by Rebuild the Dream. President of that organization, and former Obama administration green jobs advisor, Van Jones “cuts through the myths around Keystone XL … and explains who will be to blame if the pipeline is approved.”

This comes as the U.S. State Department announced it will investigate the Keystone XL pipeline environmental report, produced by contractor Environmental Resources Management (ERM), according to DeSmog Blog, via Common Dreams. This follows an EPA challenge to the State Department’s Impact Statement in April. The State Dept. released the draft of ERM’s report as a late Friday item in early March. That report basically cleared the construction of the northern section of KXL.

Steve Horn, at DeSmog Blog, on the just announced investigation of ERM by the State Department:

The Checks and Balances Project has announced that the U.S. State Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) has launched a conflicts-of-interest investigation into dirty dealings pertaining to the contractor tasked to perform the environmental review for the northern half of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline on behalf of State.

Environmental Resources Management, Inc. (ERM Group) declared the northern portion of Keystone XL as environmentally safe and sound on behalf of State in March, in defiance of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s assessment, among others.

The northern half of Keystone XL will connect to the over 75-percent complete southern half and – if built – will carry Alberta’s tar sands bitumen south to Texas refineries, with most of the final product shipped to the highest bidder on the global market.

Most often I’ve seen China as the anticipated buyer of the majority of the tar sands petroleum.

The overarching problem with that ERM assessment, as first revealed on Grist by Brad Johnson: ERM Group was chosen not by the State Dept., but by TransCanada itself. Furthermore, as first revealed on Mother Jones by Andy Kroll, the State Dept. redacted biographical portions of the EIS that pointed to ERM’s ongoing close consulting relationship with ERM Group and TransCanada.

ERM told State that it isn’t an “energy interest.” In fact, it is. Horn’s report quotes Checks and Balances’ Gabe Elsner:

‘The State Department question defines an energy interest in part as any company or person engaged in research related to energy development. … Yet, ERM has worked for all of the top five oil companies and dozens of other fossil fuel companies. In other words, ERM is clearly an energy interest.’

ERM is a member of lobbying group, the American Petroleum Institute (API), “which spent $7.3 million on lobbying in 2012 and another $8.6 million on lobbying in 2011.”

How it took State, and Mr. Obama, this long to recognize and/or acknowledge a “conflict of interest” is troubling. Not surprising, but troubling. The ultimate decision regarding KXL, northern section, is up to State and the White House. A decision has been expected fairly soon, but the announced investigation of ERM by the State Dept.’ Inspector General would seem to suggest a delay. One question being asked is if the investigation will be an actual investigation, or a PR tactic.

Actions protesting Keystone and other environmental concerns continue. At EcoWatch, for example, Bill McKibben, Sandra Steingraber, Naomi Klein, Winona LaDuke and Rev. Lennox Yearwood announced “Summer Heat: Mass Actions to Stop the Climate Crisis.”

We’re calling this next phase of the fight Summer Heat. Over the course of the final weeks of July, from the Pacific Northwest to the coast of Maine, from the Keystone XL pipeline route to the White House where the administration has broken its promise to put solar on the roof, to the Utah desert where they’re getting ready for the first tar sands mine in the U.S., we’re going to try and get across the essential message: it’s time to stand up–peacefully but firmly–to the industry that is wrecking our future.

The organizers make this very important point:

For people on the front lines of fossil fuel extraction, these fights are often, properly, about the local immediate impacts. And now all of us, even those fortunate enough to live without that daily trauma, need to add the weight of our anger and hope as well. It’s one big fight. Front-line communities need and deserve reinforcements, pouring in to help the people who have been carrying these struggles as they begin to impact us all.

Earlier actions include Fearless Summer in June, with protests at mining and drilling sites around the nation. First Nations and Idle No More are working in Canada, for a Sovereignty Summer.

Ongoing actions include those on college campuses.

The rapid spread of the divestment (from petroleum industries) movement across college campuses should provide courage to everyone: we got goose bumps when the students at Rhode Island School of Design, occupying their president’s office last week to demand divestment, lowered a banner out the window: ‘We May Be Art Students, But We Can Still do the Math.

Unfortunately for us, the “math” being done by DC Electeds is often of a different kind, i.e., focused on profits, campaign contributions and the DC Revolving Door; and compared to global environmental concerns, DC and corporate calculations are usually made with the “wisdom” of very short-term thinking.

Fortunately for us — the residents of Earth — there are also people who are working to change the math that adds up to environmental damage of incalculable costs.

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2 Responses to Keystone XL: The “Obama Pipeline”? [Video]

  1. Taylor Marsh May 31, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

    How it took State, and Mr. Obama, this long to recognize and/or acknowledge a “conflict of interest” is troubling.

    Looking for a way to ignore it obviously became untenable.

    • Joyce Arnold May 31, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

      Agreed, it’s “untenable.” But when has that stopped Electeds? :)

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