Keystone XL Scandal: Obama State Dept. Hid Contractor's TransCanada Ties

Read time: 3 mins

Mother Jones has a breaking investigation out on another scandal pertaining to the Obama State Department's Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline. 

The skinny: the firm that DeSmogBlog revealed has historical ties to Big Tobacco and currently has a client list that includes Koch Industries, ConocoPhillips and BP, Environmental Resources Management (ERM) Group, also has a direct connection to TransCanada itself. ERM Group - DeSmog revealed - also rubber-stamped the controversial and environmentally hazardous Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan (BTC) Pipeline in 2003, which carries oil and gas produced in the Caspian Sea in Baku, Azerbaijan to Tbilisi, Georgia and eventually makes its way to Ceyhan, Turkey. 

Andy Kroll summed up Mother Jones' new discovery about ERM, writing,

ERM's second-in-command on the Keystone report, Andrew Bielakowski, had worked on three previous pipeline projects for TransCanada over seven years as an outside consultant. He also consulted on projects for ExxonMobil, BP, and ConocoPhillips, three of the Big Five oil companies that could benefit from the Keystone XL project and increased extraction of heavy crude oil taken from the Canadian tar sands. 

Embarassed by this act of blatant corruption, the State Department redacted the “biographies” portion of its EIS, an overt attempted cover-up. Mother Jones tracked down a non-redacted version, revealing the ties that bind the study to the corporation the EIS is technically supposed to stand independent of. 

Bielakowski's ties, coming full circle, are a logical next step in the story.

Brad Johnson, writing for Grist, revealed that the State Department actually allowed TransCanada to hire a contractor on its behalf. TransCanda, of course, went to a go-to-guy who can “deliver the goods.”

“Delivering the goods,” of course, has little to do with delivering good science and is yet another act of deploying the Tobacco Playbook: make a one-sided scientific debate a farcical two-sided one. 

Last time around the block, the State Department pulled the same trick, contracting the EIS out to Cardno Entrix, a contractor which lists TransCanada as one of its clients. Flying in the face of reality, a State Department Inspector General report concluded there was no evidence of conflict of interest or bias in the State Department's review

The Keystone XL will carry tar sands crude - also known as diluted bitumen or “dilbit” - from the Alberta tar sands project down to refineries in Port Arthur, TX. From there, it will be shipped to the global market. The export pipeline facts on the ground fly in the face of Big Oil's often-deployed “gaining energy independence” charm offensive.  

A final decision by President Obama and Sec. of State John Kerry is expected on the Keystone XL Pipeline in the next few months. 

Photo Credit: ShutterStock | Leonid Ikan

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Ordinarily the political opposition would love to jump on the failure of the State Department to be honest.   There would be hearings, and accusations, and maybe even a blue dress somewhere.   This messup is well known, seems like this would be a slam dunk.

What does it mean that there is total government silence from both parties?

Thank you Steve Horn and DeSmogBlog for your courage to speak up.

Maybe the FBI?   (hey, when do they get around to reading these things?  soon?)


It can even go both ways with this result.  Obama is holding all the cards.  I honestly don't think this report is a naughty enough scandle though.

He can say the result is tainted and toss the lot, and roll some heads.  That would buy a lot more time before the proposal reappears. (Which may fit his 'all of the above' strategy.)

He can approve the project and cow tail to special interests. (Which seems to be his intent…)

What I really want to see is a policy on Climate Change.  I want to see a Carbon Tax.