Former TransCanada employee and engineer Evan Vokes, who released thousands of pages of records after he was dismissed by the corporation in 2012, believes that a newly acquired internal email shows his managers tried to discredit him for raising the alarm on their safety practices.
Vokes obtained the email in Feburary 2014 through access to information legislation, reports Mike De Souza for InsideClimate News. Most of the message was censored by TransCanada before release, but the first line clearly mentions “managing the EV [Evan Vokes] credibility issue.”
“My understanding is that we have been reasonably successful at influencing authorities [redacted] and pointing out EV is disgruntled, and actually had the responsibility to correct these same matters and did not,” reads the email, dated July 26, 2013.
When an oil company’s negligence leads to an oil spill, the financial costs incurred by the company can be crippling. They have to pay clean up costs, federal fines, and, in many cases, settlements to victims who have been affected by the spill. Since these costs can be such a burden to the multi-billion dollar industry, they’ve figured out a way to recoup some of their losses by deceiving all the players involved.
Of course, these aren’t the massive oil spills that we’ve seen from Exxon and BP; these are the smaller ones that most people don’t hear about that typically occur when storage containers leak. That’s where the industry has learned that oil spills can actually be good for their bottom line.
The scheme is known as “double dipping,” and it involves oil companies receiving both insurance funds for spill cleanup along with state funds to clean up oil leaks from underground tankers. This allows the company to use funds for cleanup, and usually have a little left over to put in their pockets.
A new report by Reuters succinctly captures the essence of what’s happening in a single quote: “When I first saw these cases, I thought this is kind of incredible,” said New Mexico assistant attorney general Seth Cohen, who handled the lawsuit for the state. “The oil companies have, in effect, profited off polluting.”
Last week, however, activists fighting the construction of the pipeline released images of what they claim are improperly welded pipeline seams. The photos were released by Keystone XL blockader Ramsey Sprague at the Pipe Tech Americas 2013 conference in Texas and were taken by blockader Isabel Brooks.
Brooks took the photographs from inside a pipe segment on December 3, 2012 to document what they say was daylight pouring through weld seams between segments. “All of us looked at it,” Brooks told DeSmog, speaking of the defective seam, “and it was clear light was coming in from the outside…It was definitely clear what it was.”
An hour after the protesters were extracted from the pipe segment, says Brooks, it was in the ground. “[Other protestors] told me that it was in the ground that day and buried. So they didn't test it again,” she said. “I know exactly the piece of pipe that it's at, so if we were to dig it up I know it would be right there and as clear as that day.”
These two images from inside the pipe were released by Sprague last week:
Mike Klink was an inspector for the project, and claims he was fired by the company after repeatedly raising concerns about the substandard materials and poor construction of the pipeline. Klink warns that the company's missteps and shortcuts that already resulted in 12 spills in one year should serve as fair warning against TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
Democracy is utterly dependent upon an electorate that is accurately informed. In promoting climate change denial (and often denying their responsibility for doing so) industry has done more than endanger the environment. It has undermined democracy.
There is a vast difference between putting forth a point of view, honestly held, and intentionally sowing the seeds of confusion. Free speech does not include the right to deceive. Deception is not a point of view. And the right to disagree does not include a right to intentionally subvert the public awareness.