Keystone XL Environmental Consultant ‘Lied’ About TransCanada Ties
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WASHINGTON, DC, July 11, 2013 (ENS) – The latest environmental assessment of the controversial TransCanada Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is flawed because the contractor hired by the U.S. State Department to write the review “lied” on its conflict of interest disclosure form about its past work for TransCanada, finds research released Wednesday by two environmental groups.
The international consultancy Environmental Resources Management was hired by the U.S. State Department in 2012 to write a supplemental assessment of the environmental impact of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
In their research report, Friends of the Earth and the Checks & Balances Project cite the publicly-available conflict of interest disclosure form signed by ERM Senior Associate Partner Steve Koster, PE, which states, “ERM has no business relationship with TransCanada or its affiliates, and in the attached is certifying that no conflict of interest exists for working on this Project.”
“ERM lied again when it said it had no relationship with any business that would be affected by construction of the Keystone XL, which would carry tar sands oil from northern Alberta to refineries on the Gulf Coast,” Friends of the Earth states in the research report. “In fact, ERM’s own publicly available documents show that the firm has business with over a dozen companies with operating stakes in the Alberta tar sands.”But Friends of the Earth’s review of Environmental Resources Management’s business connections found that, in fact, ERM and TransCanada have worked together at least since 2011 on another pipeline – the Alaska Pipeline Project, a partnership between ExxonMobil and TransCanada designed to connect Alaska’s North Slope natural gas resources to new markets.
Environmental Resources Management, Inc., based in London, UK with 140 offices in 39 countries and territories, was contracted to write the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, SEIS, for TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
The new 875-mile pipeline would allow delivery of up to 830,000 barrels per day of diluted crude oil from the tar sands of Alberta and the Bakken Shale Formation in Montana and North Dakota to Nebraska for onward delivery to Gulf Coast refineries.
TransCanada has applied for a Presidential Permit which, if granted, would authorize the proposed pipeline to cross the Canada-U.S. border.
The SEIS was required because the State Department’s Final Environmental Impact Statement, FEIS, written by contract consultant Cardno Enterix and issued in August 2011, did not cover a change to the route through Nebraska to avoid the environmentally sensitive Sand Hills region over the Oglalla Aquifer. In February 2012, this FEIS was criticized for conflict of interest in a report by the State Department’s own Inspector General.
“From the beginning, the State Department’s review of Keystone has been plagued by influence peddling and conflicts of interest,” said Ross Hammond, senior campaigner for Friends of the Earth.
“This is more serious. If ERM lied about its relationship with TransCanada, how can Secretary Kerry, President Obama or the American people believe anything the company says about the pipeline’s environmental impact?” said Hammond.
Hammond said ERM’s lies call into question the entire Keystone XL environmental review process.
Friends of the Earth and The Checks & Balances Project have called for an investigation by the State Department’s Inspector General into how ERM was hired given these conflicts of interest.
In the wake of the new evidence that ERM lied on State Department disclosure forms, the groups are asking Secretary of State John Kerry to throw out the ERM study and not allow it to determine the Obama Administration’s decision on whether to issue a pipeline permit.