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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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