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Andy Kroll at Mother Jones has the exclusive. A top expert who helped write the government's latest Keystone report previously consulted on three different TransCanada projects—a fact the State Department tried to hide.

Late on a Friday afternoon in early March, the State Department released a 2,000-page draft report downplaying the environmental risks of the northern portion of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would ferry oil from Canada's tar sands to refineries in Texas, passing through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma. But when it released the report, State hid an important fact from the public: Experts who helped draft the report had previously worked for TransCanada, the company looking to build the Keystone pipeline, and other energy companies poised to benefit from Keystone's construction. State released documents in conjunction with the Keystone report in which these experts' work histories were redacted so that anyone reading the documents wouldn't know who'd previously hired them. Yet unredacted versions of these documents obtained by Mother Jones confirm that three experts working for an outside contractor had done consulting work for TransCanada and other oil companies with a stake in the Keystone's approval.
This information further damages the State Dept. XL study to the point of making it invalid.
Outside contractors (managed by the State Department) wrote the Keystone report, which neither endorsed or rejected the Keystone pipeline. The contractor that produced the bulk of the report was Environmental Resources Management (ERM), an international consulting firm. On the day the State Department published the Keystone impact report, the agency also released a cache of documents that ERM submitted in 2012 to win the contract to produce the Keystone environmental report. That cache included a 55-page filing in which ERM stated it had no conflicts of interests writing the Keystone report.

But there was something strange about ERM's conflict-of-interest filing: the bios for the ERM's experts were redacted.

Click the Mother Jones link above to check out copies of the redacted filing as it appeared on the State Department's website
The State Department appears to be responsible for the attempt to mask the ERM-TransCanada connection. When State first posted the redacted ERM filing, it was possible to digitally remove the redaction and read the ERM bios. But some days later, a new version of the filing was posted online in which the ERM bios had been scrubbed from beneath the redactions.
A decision on the XL pipeline has been expected in the next few months but I can't imagine that the State Department can use their XL pipeline study as evidence to their decision. This information shows how important the activism has been which has been responsible for delaying the xl pipeline decision. Delay has been our friend in allowing the time necessary to get to the truth.

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Originally posted to Climate Change SOS on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 08:52 AM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Hillary 2016! eom (6+ / 0-)

    'Guns don't kill people, video games do - paraphrased from Lamar Alexander (Sen-R-TN)'

    by RichM on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 08:58:00 AM PDT

  •  The fix is in. (3+ / 0-)

    Seems the science isn't shouting loud enough.

  •  All the inside scoop I've been picking up (3+ / 0-)

    is indicating that POTUS is leaning toward  approval.  I'll be posting about this later today.  

    If we really want to straighten out all this crap we really need to think about shit - Holy Shit.

    by John Crapper on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 09:26:08 AM PDT

  •  Give it up (0+ / 0-)

    Labor trumps Enviros. State signaled the approval after NE Gov supported.


    "When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, And the women come out to cut up what remains, Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains An' go to your Gawd like a soldier." Rudyard Kipling

    by EdMass on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 09:29:35 AM PDT

  •  but but but wait ... (4+ / 0-)

    don't know if Kroll does have a scoop here... I remember hearing about this or some other conflict of interest months ago...

    do you recall if it was something different?

    Oh I hope you are right, beachbabe .. but i fear not. What I DO hope is that 350's campaign will be wildly successful and effect a change in the ruling.

    That's what they are planning. Education through civil disobedience.

    But even so, this information will provide more background to make their case.

    Thanks for your tireless work:)

    •  I don't recall a similar revelation boatsie. (0+ / 0-)

      don't think he can call it an exclusive if it can be refuted.

      i agree, it can only help our cause :) though it does sink Hillary

      Macca's Meatless Monday

      by VL Baker on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 09:50:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  the exclusive is in the proof that State tried (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson, Just Bob

      to hide contractors background

      Macca's Meatless Monday

      by VL Baker on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 09:54:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Here it is --Keystone XL Conflicts of Interest (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Just Bob

        fromDeSmogback in December

        It was another COI, not nearly as huge .

        OnEarth recently exposed another equally brazen conflict of interest for the controversial pipeline. The State of Nebraska hired an Omaha-based company to run the environmental assessment for the project. The only problem, as Ted Genoways reported: HDR Engineering has extremely close business ties to TransCanada, having twice been hired by the company directly for big contract

        Genoways writes:

            What’s more, HDR’s own website says one of its missions is to “help oil and gas clients overcome the challenges of increasing government regulation and oversight and harsh physical and political climates, and exploit those opportunities.” Among the services its provides to pipeline companies is “helping them through the environmental planning and permitting process.” HDR promises “one-stop shopping,” so these companies “can focus on what they do best -- delivering oil.”

    •  Glad to know someone else remembers, (0+ / 0-)

      boatsie, because I do, too. If we are correct, and I haven't searched for a link, it is a second instance of the same thing!

      It was a surprise to see a second report so soon after Kerry took over State. He's been a supporter of the environment in the past and has said he'd play a personal role in the review.

      It made me wonder if some were trying to preclude his involvement.

      "Let each unique song be sung and the spell of differentiation be broken" - Winter Rabbit

      by cotterperson on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 11:43:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A lesson never learned (3+ / 0-)

    the cover-up (redaction) is often worse than the crime (hiring experts with oil industry experience).

    Orly, it isn't evidence just because you downloaded it from the internet.

    by 6412093 on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 11:17:36 AM PDT

  •  As a professional environmental planner, (4+ / 0-)

    this is pretty interesting.  I have worked on state DOT and local transit projects (FHWA and FTA being the lead federal agencies on the projects).  When the large  civil engineering firms I have worked for on such projects (environmental impact docuemnts for highways and transit) have done the environmental work, our design engineers are generally barred from being the lead (i.e., our firm) on doing the actual design (they can do parts of the final design as sub-consultants to other firms).  It just makes sense.

    I don't know anything about how DOE environmental documents are done, but similar restrictions may apply.  I believe the private company seeking the environmental clearance must pay for the work, but DOE apparently selects the firm(s) that do the environmental analysis.  In fairness to the individuals in the proposal qualifications package, YES, having done environmental analysis work on similar projects, either directly for DOE or for BP, Shell, or whoever, may well qualify one to do the work at hand being solicited by DOE.  Why that information would be redacted on a conflict-of-interest form I can not explain.

    I had to disclose and sign a disclosure agreement when I worked on a rail transit project in my own city, because my wife worked for a large corporation whose headquarters property was located adjacent to the proposed rail line.  Y'know, to get people who work there (as well as a lot of other locations) to work and home on the transit line.  There was no conflict, and the information was completely available to the public.  I don't see why the DOE would redact that.  It harms them and their credibility, as well as the professionals who worked on the EIS.

    I just dont know.

    I'm part of the "bedwetting bunch of website Democrat base people (DKos)." - Rush Limbaugh, 10/16/2012 Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

    by tom 47 on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 11:33:42 AM PDT

  •  Crooked bastards just cannot help themselves (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    beach babe in fl, wonmug

    What fraud.  Must have been the same hacks that gave us the Iraq war as it song sounds the same.

  •  Good for Andy. He does fine work already (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    beach babe in fl, Just Bob

    and I see him just getting better over time. We need strong, committed investigative reporters like him (and the journals that fund them). MJ just got a subscription from me.

    Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

    by peregrine kate on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 12:50:55 PM PDT

  •  Focus (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Where should the focus be in addressing the Keystone XL pipeline Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and Presidential Permit issuance matter if you're interested in actually prosecuting and directing your activities targeted on the decisionmaking process to actually achieve a win?  -- that being a permit denial.....

    Not on the matter of conflicting interests of the Department of State's contract vendors for the SEIS preparation.

    Unless you have palpable evidence of malfeasance that rises to a level that would give rise to a Federal False Claims Act violation or failure to comply with a specific Department of State contracting regulation, there is zero chance that a primary focus on the conflict of interest claims on the contractors will get the permit denial  decision you want.

    Dept. of State is required to follow the statutory decision making process on Presidential Permit issuance and on what the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Analysis must do.  

    Simply stated......

    .......if you don't make the primary focus of your efforts on an examination on the Keystone XL pipeline itself (and on what it will do and the specific consequences of its operation) and on specifically and in a detailed manner showing how the Final SEIS is erroneous, conflated, inaccurate and/or incomplete in its declaration, and.....

    .....if your primary focus is not on the 'national interest' criteria for the granting of a Presidential Permit, and showing in both a specific, detailed and complete manner why Keystone XL pipeline permit issuance is not in the 'national interest' as depicted in the statute...... will lose in the first round with both the DOS final SEIS approval and the 'national interest' decision at the administrative agency level, and.... will lose at Federal District court level in any litigation and appeals of the decision on the Final SEIS and the Presidential Permit issuance decisions, and.....

    ....the Keystone XL pipeline will be built and the enviro efforts opposing it will all be for nothing.

    •  Yes, the case must be made against the pipeline (0+ / 0-)

      itself and the systemic effects of producing and burning the tar sands dilbit & syncrude. The conflict of interest point helps negate the claims made in the SEIS.

      look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

      by FishOutofWater on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 04:05:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nothing about the presence of a conflict (0+ / 0-)

        of interest addresses, at all, what declarations are in the EIS and why they are erroneous.....that is a factual matter having nothing to do with any 'conflict of interest' dispute.

      •  A Canadian government representative (0+ / 0-)

        who went to DC as a lobbyist for the KXL said that the Americans told him, we don't want information on the pipeline, the price of crude, getting oil from a safe country we want information on the environmental impact.

        That's right from the State Department. They released the SEIS shortly afterwards.

        I see debunking SEIS as very important. Then there's a German environmental consulting company that ended their contract with the Tar Sands on the basis that continuing would ruin their reputation.

        The "enviro efforts" have not been wasted, they are scaring investors away from the Tar Sands project. They are forcing environmental reviews and delays on the pipeline decision.

  •  Shocked! (0+ / 0-)

    Shocked, I tell you.

    Freedom isn't "on the march." Freedom dances.

    by WarrenS on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 09:22:56 PM PDT

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