This Graphic Says It All About Keystone XL Web of Deceit

Read time: 3 mins

Friends of the Earth-U.S. (FOE) and have jointly unveiled an easily sharable graphic depicting the web of deceit surrounding the environmental review for the northern half of Transcanada's Keystone XL tar sands export pipeline

The graphic's notorious star: Environmental Resources Management, Inc., better known as ERM Group. ERM Group was chosen by the State Department - more specifically by Transcanada for the State Department - to perform the review.

“[T]he process has a built-in conflict of interest, because the contractors who do EIS studies for the government are paid for by the applicant,” a July investigative piece in Bloomberg explains

The graphic serves as a summation of lots of the work done here on DeSmogBlog over the last six months. In so doing, it digs into conflicts of interest, lobbyist influence peddling and outright corruption occurring at the U.S. State Department pertaining to Keystone XL.

Check out the graphic below:

Highlights of our work included in the graphic:

a.) Our revalation that not only is ERM Group a dues-paying member of the American Petroluem Institute (API), but API also spent $22 million lobbying for Keystone XL since it was proposed in mid-2008.  

b.) ERM Group lied on its environmental review conflict of interest form, stating it had no conflicts, even though it currently also maintains Transcanada as a client in Alaska, overseeing the permitting process for the Alaska Gas Pipeilne (now known as South Central LNG).

Missing in the graphic, but included as part of a DeSmogBlog exclusive investigation: President Obama's personal attorney's law firm, Perkins Coie, represents Transcanada for the Alaska Gas Pipeilne.

Robert “Bob” Bauer is his attorney and his wife is former Obama White House Communications Director Anita Dunn. Dunn now does PR for Transcanda at the PR firm she co-owns, SKDKnickerbocker. 

c.) One high-level ERM employee who has done consulting work with Transcanada attempted to cover up that fact on his LinkedIn after initial stories came out about who ERM was and why it was troubling they performed the environmental review for the State Department.

d.) The over-arching issue trumping all other issues: ERM's report says Keystone XL will have negligible climate change impacts, so we have nothing to worry about according to the report. Retired NASA scientist James Hansen - who helped put runaway climate change on the map to begin with - has called full development of the tar sands “game over for the climate.” 

It's not all a lost cause, though: the Peruvian government recently rejected a gas project ERM Group said was environmentally safe and sound, saying indigenous people living in the region could be made extinct if it goes ahead.

Stay tuned to DeSmogBlog for continuing coverage of Keystone XL and tar sands extraction issues.
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This spaghetti bowl (or bad plumbing job) is interesting - but it's hard to figure out what's going on without the permitter (US State Department), permitee (pipeline company) and assigned technical contractor(s) roles and responsibility language typical of a federal contract. It really doesn't matter who actually prepared the SEIS or the preparer's background and past and present industry relationships. It all comes down to the project owner and that would be the Department of State (DOS). DOS should take full responsibility of contract issuance including terms and conditions and contractor/subcontractor support selection. And as we all know the buck stops with Obama - and maybe Ms. Hillary Rodham-Clinton should she re-enter politics. It would be nice to ask her about this on the campaign trail. I'll be honest, I'm not a big fan of

The president and maybe Hill's will have to live with this decision. The state department is responsible for pipelines crossing international boarders pursuant to the following piece of legislation:

The Department of 
State receives and considers applications for Presidential Permits for 
such energy-related pipelines pursuant to authority delegated to it by 
the President under Executive Order 13337 of April 30, 2004 (69 FR 
25299), as amended. To issue a Permit, the Department of State must 
find that issuance would serve the national interest. In the course of 
processing such applications, the Department consults extensively with 
concerned Federal and State agencies, and invites public comment in 
arriving at its determination.

This information was copied from the Federal Register and I linked it below.

I'd call this person up over at the Department of State:

Genevieve Walker

NEPA Contact & Project Manager United States Department of State Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs 2201 C Street NW, Room 2726 Washington, DC 20520

or from the Federal Register on the SEIS contract issuance and project owner contact information: