“I’ve been of the mind that there’s no way it makes any kind of sense [for the president to avoid a decision on Keystone]. But it’s been well over five years and yet he keeps proving me wrong,” said Dan Kish, senior vice president for policy at the conservative Institute for Energy Research. “In my experience, a lot of times what happens is the way that the environmental community works, and the political community aligned with them, they will put all kinds of speed bumps in the way [of a project] and when the car falls apart because it takes one more speed bump they say, ‘Look at that. The car couldn’t make it.’”Accusations of conflicts of interest has plagued the State Departments draft environmental review by Environmental Resources Management. Critics—led by environmental groups and key House Democrats such as Rep. Raul M. Grijalva of Arizona—point to the fact that Environmental Resources Management is a member company of groups, such as the American Petroleum Institute, that have publicly and aggressively lobbied for Keystone to be built.
The latest “speed bump” for Keystone, which would transport Canadian oil sands south from Alberta through the U.S. heartland to refineries on the Gulf Coast, centers on what some have called conflicts of interest involving the State Department’s lengthy review of the project.
Congressman Grijalva has spearheaded the opposition to the pipeline with a letter(pdf) which he sent to President Obama which was co-signed by 25 members of Congress. In the letter Grijalva stated: "We respectfully request that you delay the release of the Keystone XL SEIS until the inspector general's report is completed and has been made publicly available. The integrity of contractors is essential to the National Environmental Policy process. If the allegations that ERM lied to the Department of State about its conflicts of interest turn out to be true the Department of State must conduct a new EIS that is not tainted by conflicts of interest."
If a new EIS is initiated it could take several years—enough time for Obama's term to be over. Evidence does point to the administration allowing the XL pipeline to be killed by a thousand delays. It's a political win for the president which strengthens his relationship with his environmental base yet leaves him mainly blameless with the pipeline's proponents.