TransCanada buys town’s silence on Tar Sands Pipeline proposal for $28K

By Emily Atkin July 5, 2014 ThinkProgress.org

 

A small town in Ontario, Canada will be receiving $28,200 from energy company TransCanada Corp. in exchange for not commenting on the company’s proposed Energy East tar sands pipeline project, according to an agreement attached to the town council’s meeting agenda on June 23.

Under the terms of deal, the town of Mattawa will “not publicly comment on TransCanada’s operations or business projects” for five years. In exchange for that silence, TransCanada will give Mattawa $28,200, which will ultimately go towards buying a rescue truck for the town.

“This is a gag order,” Andrea Harden-Donahue, a campaigner for energy and climate issues with the Council of Canadians, told Bloomberg News. “These sorts of dirty tricks impede public debate on Energy East, a pipeline that comes with significant risks for communities along the route.”

The terms of the agreement did not specifically mention the controversial Energy East pipeline, which would carry more than a million barrels of tar sands crude oil across Canada each day. However, the deal is being widely seen as a way for the company to avoid obstacles that may get in the way of the pipeline’s approval — especially considering the obstacles that have long plagued the approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline in the United States.

The Energy East pipeline, though, is bigger than Keystone XL — in fact, it’s the most expensive pipeline project TransCanada has ever proposed. If approved, Energy East would carry about 1.1 million barrels of tar sands crude across Canada each day. That’s more than Keystone XL, which would carry 830,000 barrels per day from Canada down to refineries in Texas.

Despite the company’s apparent attempt to avoid obstacles, the Energy East pipeline proposal has already gotten some push-back in Canada. A February report from the Pembina Institute, for example, found Energy East would have an even greater impact on the climate than Keystone XL, with the potential to generate 30 to 32 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year. That’s the equivalent of adding more than seven million cars to the roads, and more than the 22 million metric tons that the think tank predicts Keystone XL will produce.

Still, representatives from TransCanada insist that the agreement with Mattawa was not intended to avoid or impede public discourse.

“The language in the agreement was designed to prevent municipalities from feeling obligated to make public comments on our behalf about projects that did not impact them and about which they had no experience or knowledge,” TransCanada spokesman Davis Sheremata told Bloomberg. “We are looking at amending our contract language to ensure communities know they and their staff retain the full right to participate in an open and free dialogue about our projects.”

Representatives from Mattawa’s town government have not yet publicly commented on the decision.

As of now, the process for approving the Energy East pipeline is still in its early stages, with TransCanada filing its project description for the pipeline with the National Energy Board in early March. About two-thirds of the Energy East pipeline infrastructure already exists, meaning a major part of the project will be converting that existing line — which currently carries natural gas — into a tar sands crude oil pipeline.

Tar sands oil is controversial because of its unique, thick, gooey makeup. Because of this quality, producers must use what is called “non-conventional” methods of getting the oil out of the ground. Those methods are more carbon-intensive, meaning they emit more greenhouse gases.

Tar sands production also causes a great deal of physical pollution. In Alberta, where the sands are mined, federal scientists have found that the area’s deposits are now surrounded by a nearly 7,500-square-mile ring of mercury.

With one more nail in its coffin, is Keystone XL history?

Matt Sloan/Bold Nebraska

Matt Sloan/Bold Nebraska

 

By Heather Smith, Grist

This past weekend, on June 29, TransCanada’s permit from the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission to build the Keystone XL pipeline quietly expired.

Well, sort of quietly. The Cowboy & Indian Alliance, which marched on Washington in opposition to Keystone XL earlier this year, held a celebratory buffalo roast at the Rosebud Sioux Spirit Camp and raised a flag with an image of a black snake cut into three parts.

The flag referenced an old prophecy about a black snake that would threaten the community’s land and water. Earlier interpretations had held that the snake was the railroad, and then the highway system. But when the plans for Keystone XL emerged, it seemed clear that, since both black snakes and Keystone XL traveled underground, this was definitely the black snake — or at the very least another one.

With South Dakota’s permit expired, Nebraska’s held up in litigation, and Montana blocked from the already-completed portions of Keystone XL in Kansas by South Dakota and Nebraska, the snake is cut up in three parts, at least for now.

The expired permit means that TransCanada will have to go through the application process all over again, facing a much more unified resistance than it did the first time around. The fracking boom in places like North Dakota will also make it much harder for TransCanada to argue — as it did the first time around — that Americans need Canadian crude so urgently that a Canadian pipeline company should be given powers of eminent domain to bring it here.

Keystone XL could still get built, of course. But as time goes on, and the date of the State Department’s yes/no ruling on it keeps getting pushed farther and farther into the future, it seems less and less likely.

KXL’s opponents shifted the balance of power by using many different tactics at once — massive national protests; small-scale civil disobedience along the path of the pipeline’s construction; and grassroots politicking and organizing at the local level by groups all along the pipeline’s proposed route.

The fight against the pipeline is a vindication of the “everything but the kitchen sink” school of organizing, where small groups — like the Cowboy & Indian Alliance — join forces with other organizations for large short-term events, but continue working solo on the kind of gradual, incremental struggles that take years. This is not the kind of organizing that makes it into the history books, because its story is complex and it often lacks obvious heroes. But it’s an approach that, at least in this case, is making history.

TransCanada shuts down southern leg of Keystone XL Pipeline, raising “suspicions”

Image credit: Installation of the southern portion of the Keystone XL on Michael Bishop’s property in Douglas, Texas  ©2013 Julie Dermansky

Image credit: Installation of the southern portion of the Keystone XL on Michael Bishop’s property in Douglas, Texas ©2013 Julie Dermansky

By Julie Dermansky, June 3, 2014. Source: Desmog Blog

 

TransCanada shut down the southern leg of the Keystone XL (now called the Gulf Coast Pipeline Project) on June 2 for “routine work,” according to Reuters.

“Pipelines aren’t normally shut down for maintenance shortly after being started up. They may have planned it but something is wrong,” an industry insider told DeSmogBlog. “A two day shutdown on a new line raises suspicions.”

The Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration was unable to provide an answer to DeSmogBlog when asked to confirm if the shutdown was due to routine work today.

 

“The Gulf Coast Pipeline is the safest oil pipeline built in the United States to date,” TransCanada spokesman David Sheremata told DeSmogBlog.

TransCanada states this claim often, despite the serious issues cited by pipeline regulators in warning letters, along with the two new special conditions added to the existing 57 required if the northern section of the pipeline is permitted.

Can that statement be true after an undisclosed number of new girth welds were introduced into the pipeline during the repair process?  Despite the high weld rejection rate that regulators warned TransCanada about, a new pressure test was not required to check the new welds.

“During the first week 26.8 percent of the welds required repairs, 32.0 percent the second week, 72.2 percent the third week, and 45.0 percent the fourth week. On September 25, 2012, TransCanada stopped the Spread 3 welding after 205 of the 425 welds, or 48.2 percent required repairs.” PHMSA wrote TransCanada on September 26, 2013.

“Let’s remember, TransCanada claimed that the Keystone I pipeline system would be one that would ‘meet or exceed world-class safety and environmental standards’ and leak an average of 1.4 times a decade,” Rocky Kistner, a communications associate for the Natural Resources Defense Council, wrote on the NRDC‘s blog.

“In just its first year of operation, Keystone leaked 14 times, a hundred times more leaks than TransCanada predicted. On its Canadian side, the pipeline has leaked at least 21 times.”

TransCanada’s Bison Pipeline in Wyoming also had to be shut down after a portion of it ruptured six months after it was put into operation.

Michels Corporation, one of the contractors that worked on the Gulf Coast Pipeline, was also the contractor for Bison.

Evan Vokes, former TransCanada employee turned whistleblower, told the Wyoming Tribune that speed was put ahead of safety on that project. He noticed problems with pipe alignment welding, excavation and backfilling, among other things while working on that project.

“It is questionable that a pipeline which generates millions of dollars a day, in operation for barely six months, is suddenly off,” Kathy DaSilva, an activist representative of the Tar Sands Blockade, told DeSmogBlog.

This latest incident led the Tar Sands Blockade to renew its call for Keystone XL‘s southern leg to remain shut down until further testing is done to ensure the pipeline’s integrity.

The advocacy group Public Citizen also called for a new pressure test on the pipeline.

“Given the stakes – the looming potential for a catastrophic spill of a hazardous crude along a pipeline that traverses hundreds of streams and rivers, and that comes within just one or two miles of some towns and cities – it would be irresponsible for the federal government to allow tar sands crude to start flowing through the southern leg without ordering a complete hydrostatic retesting of the line and a thorough quality assurance review,” their report on the Keystone XL‘s southern route concluded.

The big question remains: is the Obama administration playing Russian roulette with Texas and Oklahoma aquifers by not requiring the retesting on the Gulf Coast Pipeline?

TransCanada looks to ship oil to U.S. by rail amid Keystone XL delays

 

Train cars carrying crude oil burn after derailing in Lac Megantic, Quebec, July 2013.

Train cars carrying crude oil burn after derailing in Lac Megantic, Quebec, July 2013.

Calgary-based company has waited more than 5 years for the Obama administration to make a decision

CBC News, May 22, 2014

TransCanada is in talks with customers about shipping Canadian crude to the United States by rail as an alternative to its Keystone XL pipeline project that has been mired in political delays, according to company president and CEO Russ Girling.

“We are absolutely considering a rail option,” Girling told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference in New York Wednesday. “Our customers have needed to wait for several years, so we’re in discussions now with them over the rail option.”

The comments are the first to confirm growing speculation that TransCanada might use more costly and controversial railway shipments as a stopgap alternative to the Keystone XL pipeline, whose approval has been delayed by the U.S. government.

Girling said the firm was exploring shipping crude by rail from Hardisty in Canada, the main storage and pipeline hub, to Steele City, Neb., where it would flow into an existing pipeline to the Gulf refining hub.

5-year wait

TransCanada has waited more than five years for the Obama administration to make a decision on the $5.4-billion project, which would carry up to 830,000 barrels per day of crude from the oilsands of northern Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

While the project has received a mostly favourable environmental report, the State Department last month delayed a decision beyond the mid-term elections in November while a legal dispute over the line’s route in Nebraska is settled.

The pipeline has drawn sharp criticism from environmental groups who say it will fuel more production of Canada’s energy-intensive oilsands.

But the oil-by-rail movement has also come under scrutiny after a series of explosive derailments, including the one in Lac-Megantic, Que., last summer that killed 47.

Opposition fuelling opportunity

“It’s an irony that the adamant opposition of environmental organizations and others against oilsands-derived crude have actually created a phenomenal opportunity for rail to pick up the slack,” said David McColl, an analyst at Morningstar, Inc.

The line has the backing of the Canadian government and conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the project “a no-brainer.” Canada is counting on new export lines to boost discounted oil prices in the country and accommodate rising production from the oilsands.

Demand to ship crude by rail has gathered pace in Canada as producers scramble for alternatives to congested export pipelines.

Canadian crude-by-rail exports jumped to 146,047 bpd in the last quarter of 2013, an 83-per cent year-on-year surge, according to the National Energy Board.

Crude-by-rail boom

With Keystone XL and a number of other new pipelines projects mired in regulatory delay and environmental opposition, the crude-by-rail boom shows little sign of slowing.

Jarrett Zielinski, chief executive officer of TORQ Transloading — which is building Canada’s largest unit train terminal in Kerrobert, Sask., said TransCanada would need to load at least roughly nine unit trains per day to rival the takeaway capacity of Keystone XL, if they were to load raw bitumen.

Zielinski said that much extra crude travelling on Canada’s rails, in addition to the new rail loading projects already underway, could strain the system.

“The rail network would need more infrastructure and people,” he said. “It’s my fear that the current rail infrastructure would be insufficient, although it could be scaled up quickly.”

CAPP reaction

The president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) says using rail is a good stopgap measure until the Keystone XL pipeline is approved.

“We expect to see pipeline growth, but rail is important in the near term,” said Dave Collyer.

He says CAPP will release its production and transportation outlook for the year next month.

“What it will show is rail is an important interim transportation solution to accommodate the growth and production we foresee,” Collyer said.

He says pipelines are still the best in the long term, but until that happens he says rail is a choice that must be considered.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/transcanada-looks-to-ship-oil-to-u-s-by-rail-amid-keystone-xl-delays-1.2651054

Take action against Enbridge’s Line 9

Photo: Adam Carter/CBC

Photo: Adam Carter/CBC

 

Source: Reclaim Turtle Island

#Line9IndustrialGenocide

Without surprise, the National Energy Board has approved the reversal of the Line 9 pipeline. This pipeline crosses every single tributary that flows into Lake Ontario, and cuts up the north shore of the St. Lawrence river….

It was anticipated that this information be released on March. 19th. Instead the rubber-stamping came early.

Indigenous peoples whose territories are being attacked by this project have been silenced throughout this process. It is our communities, and other communities of colour, who primarily live fenceline with the tar sands, its mining, infrastructure and refineries. It is our Sacred sites that are being desecrated by the shady movements of corporate imperialists and colonial-capitalists.

Line 9 shows us exactly what environmental racism looks like, from Aamjiwnaang to Jane & Finch – telling us that bodies of colour and Indigenous bodies are expendable for the larger project of profit. Line 9 is but expanded infrastructure to move the Athabasca tar sands eastward – it is an embodiment of the slow industrial genocide that is being committed by TransCanada, Enbridge, Suncor, and the Government of Canada, to name a few.

This deep rooted social disconnection from the land is fostered by the occupation of our Nations’ territories. The attack on Indigenous bodies and bodies of colour are but a glimpse into the functions of this White supremacist, settler-colonial death culture that seeks to consume, corrupt and conquer.

On March 19th, let us keep close the truth of the violence that is this pipeline: an apparatus of tar sands destruction that seeks to poison that which sustains us and those faces not yet born. On this day we will be connected with each other in struggle as we fill our hearts with love for the wild and carry inside us a hunger for justice. March 19th Take Action Against Line 9!

 We are requesting solidarity actions by friends in struggle who share Enbridge as a common enemy – from the West to the East, Enbridge’s toxic tendrils are an affront on Indigenous Sovereignty and the health of all of Creation.


Only you, your community and your affinity groups know what action is best to take in your area. Get in touch with us if you want to confirm an action. #Line9IndustrialGenocide

Be safe, be strong!

Keep your ear to the ground, because there are more battles ahead. Stop the beast! #NoLine9 #NoEnergyEast

Note: For more background on Enbridge’s Line 9 tar sands pipeline and the recent approval it received by Canadian regulators, click here.

-The GJEP Team

Keystone XL ‘black snake’ pipeline to face ‘epic’ opposition from Native American alliance

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Image: U.S. State Department

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Image: U.S. State Department

By Jorge Barrera, January 31, 2014. Source: APTN National News

A Native American alliance is forming to block construction of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline which still needs final approval from U.S. President Barack Obama after the State Department released an environmental report indicating the project wouldn’t have a significant impact Alberta tar sands production.

Members from the seven tribes of the Lakota Nation, along with tribal members and tribes in Idaho, Oklahoma, Montana, Nebraska and Oregon, have been preparing to stop construction of the 1,400 kilometre pipeline which is slated to run, on the U.S. side, from Morgan, Mon., to Steel City, Neb., and pump 830,000 barrels per day from Alberta’s tar sands. The pipeline would originate in Hardisty, Alta.

“It poses a threat to our sacred water and the product is coming from the tar sands and our tribes oppose the tar sands mining,” said Deborah White Plume, of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, which is part of the Lakota Nation in South Dakota. “All of our tribes have taken action to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline.”

The U.S. State Department released its long awaited environmental report on TransCanada’s proposed pipeline Friday. The report found that the pipeline’s operation would not have a major impact on Alberta tar sands production which is also at the mercy of market forces.

“Approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed project, is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States based on expected oil prices, oil sand supply costs, transport costs and supply-demand scenarios,” said the report.

The project will now go into a final phase which focuses on whether Keystone XL “serves the national interest.” Pipeline’s environmental, cultural and economic impacts will be weighed in this phase and at least eight agencies will have input on the outcome, including the Department Defence, Justice, Interior, Commerce, Transportation, Energy, Homeland Security and the Environmental Protection Agency.

A 30-day public comment period will also be initiated on Feb. 5.

The State Department is also in the midst of probing conflict-of-interest allegations levelled against contractors who both worked on the report and for TransCanada.

The Lakota Nation is preparing for the eventuality the pipeline receives approval. The nation has led the formation of a project called “Shielding the People” to stop the pipeline. The Lakota also launched a “moccasins on the ground” program to train people in Indigenous communities to oppose the pipeline.

There are also plans to set up spiritual camps along the pipeline’s route. But when and where those camps will spring up remains a closely guarded secret.

“It will band all Lakota to live together and you can’t cross a living area if it’s occupied,” said Greg Grey Cloud, of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. “If it does get approved we aim to stop it.”

Gary Dorr, from the Nez Perce Tribe in Idaho, was in Rosebud Friday for a meeting to discuss opposition to Keystone.

The Nez Perce tribe has already used its treaty rights to block the transport of so-called megaloads of mining equipment headed to Alberta’s tar sands through its territory. The tribe launched blockades and won a court battle to stop the shipments from traversing its lands.

“It will be obvious, it will be concrete, and I think once it starts and they start building you will start to see the momentum and the force of the tribal people…it is an epic project, it will have an epic response from the tribal people,” said Dorr. “The tar sands is already affecting the people (for Fort Chipewyan in Alberta), climate change is already obvious. To facilitate that is not something the Native people of the U.S. are going to do. We are not going to sit idly by and let it happen.”

The pipeline has been called the ‘black snake’ in reference to prophecies that had previously been linked to construction of highways and railways. In recent ceremonies, however, discussions sifting through the prophecies noted that the black snake goes under ground.

“That would be a referral to the pipeline,” said Dorr.

Paula Antoine, who works for the Rosebud Tribe’s land office, said while the pipeline does not cross any Lakota reservation lands, it comes close, sometimes metres away. Antoine said the pipeline, however, cuts through their treaty territory, sacred sites and waterways.

“They aren’t recognizing our treaties, they are violating our treaty rights and our boundaries by going through there,” said Antoine. “Any ground disturbance around that proposed line will affect us.”

The battle lines have already been drawn in tribal council chambers. The Oglala Sioux Tribe passed a resolution Friday banning TransCanada and former AFN national chief Phil Fontaine, who has been hired by the energy firm to deal with First Nations opposition to its Energy East project in Canada, from entering its territory.

The resolution received unanimous consent,said White Plume.

The Lakota, Dakota and Nakota make up the Lakota Nation. The nation includes the tribes of Rosebud, Oglala and the Cheyenne Indian reservation, the Yankton Sioux Tribe, Standing Rock, Flandreau Sioux Tribe and the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe.

Southern Leg of Keystone XL Near Completion as Opponents Lose Last Legal Battle in Texas

By Carol Berry, Indian Country Today Media Network

American Indians and others who oppose the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline have lost their last legal battle, enabling TransCanada to finish the project by year’s end.

While the northern part of the Keystone XL pipeline has been held up by controversy, the protests against the southern portion, known as the Gulf Coast Pipeline, have been to no avail. On October 9 a split federal appeals court upheld a lower court’s refusal to stop the pipeline’s construction because an injunction to stop construction, which is what the opponents sought, “would cost [TransCanada] at least hundreds of thousands of dollars per day,” the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals said in its ruling.

RELATED: Actress Daryl Hannah Arrested Protesting Keystone XL in Texas

New York Times Journalists Threatened With Arrest While Reporting on Keystone XL Opposition

TransCanada has already spent at least $500 million on the 485-mile pipeline, which is expected to transport 700,000 gallons of crude oil daily from Cushing, in central Oklahoma, to Gulf Coast refineries.

The controversial Keystone XL extends through Sac and Fox territory. Other Oklahoma tribes that have spoken out about the pipeline’s impact on tribal patrimony include the Caddo, Choctaw, Southern Ponca and Pawnee, though none is party to the lawsuit.

The southern XL extension was formerly part of the full TransCanada XL pipeline, traversing some 1,700 miles of western and Midwestern states in its transnational route from Canadian tar sands, but vigorous opposition from Indian people, especially in northern areas, has delayed approval of the full section. The northern part must be approved by the U.S. Department of State, because it crosses an international line between Canada and the United States. The southern leg, purely domestic, was able to go ahead, despite a lack of thorough environmental reviews.

The Sierra Club and other plaintiffs had sought an injunction against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which had signed off on numerous permits so that TransCanada could move ahead. TransCanada proceeded even though the Corps had to issue 2,227 permits for water crossings, with minimal environmental review.

“Considering the number of permits issued by the Corps relative to the overall size of the Gulf Coast Pipeline, it is patently ludicrous for appellees to characterize the Corps’ involvement in the subject project as minimal, or to maintain that the Corps’ permitting involves only a ‘link’ in the Gulf Coast Pipeline,” said dissenting District Judge William Martinez in the October 9 Tenth Circuit ruling.

But the other two members of the three-justice panel in the federal appeals court, Circuit Judges Paul Kelly and Jerome Holmes, both said that financial harm can be weighed against environmental harm and in certain circumstances outweigh it.

The Sierra Club had alleged violations of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Clean Water Act and Administrative Procedures Act and contend that the pipeline constitutes a “major federal act” that requires NEPA analysis leading to a “hard look” at possible impacts.

RELATED: Welcome to Fearless Summer: Protesters Block Keystone XL Construction

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com//2013/10/23/southern-leg-keystone-xl-near-completion-opponents-lose-last-legal-battle-texas-151887

Transcanada to build tar sands pipeline to Atlantic

By John Queally, August 2, 2013. Source: Common Dreams

energy_east

With the passage of the Keystone XL pipeline uncertain and under financial pressure to find export terminals so to justify expansion of vast tar sands operations in Alberta, the Canadian pipeline company—with backing from the Harper government— announced on Thursday that it will seek to build an enormous eastward pipeline so it can bring what critics call “the world’s dirtiest fuel” to market.

Called the “East Energy Pipeline,” the $12 billion project would connect with existing pipeline networks in Quebec province and will be able to move up to 1.1 million barrels of tar sands oil a day up and over the northeastern United States to the coast of New Brunswick.

The new project, according to TransCanada’s CEO Russ Girling, is not intended to signal that the company has given up on building Keystone but shows it is willing (and able) to push for multiple pipelines at any given time.

“What we know in North America is production is continuing to grow,” Mr. Girling said at a news conference in Calgary. “The marketplace needs both of these pipelines and probably more.”

Joe Oliver, Canada’s natural resources minister, welcomed the TransCanada announcement and said the Canadian government would offer its full support.

“Our government welcomes the prospect of transporting Canadian crude oil from Western Canada to consumers and refineries in Eastern Canada and ultimately to new markets abroad,” Oliver said in a statement.

Critics, however, were unimpressed and vowed to fight the pipeline with the same energy and intensity that Keystone XL has faced.

“TransCanada is desperate to show that tar sands are viable, ” said Michael Marx, the ‘beyond oil’ campaign director for Sierra Club. “The truth is they are not. This announcement of an eastern Canada pipeline is a fantasy. It’ll face the same opposition dirty, dangerous pipelines to the west or south through the United States face, if not more. Tar sands is the dirtiest source of oil on Earth and running it through Montreal, Quebec and the Bay of Fundy is like running Keystone XL through Manhattan and the Grand Canyon. It’s not going to happen.”

As the New York Times adds:

TransCanada’s new plan involves converting 1,864 miles of a natural gas pipeline to carry oil, and the construction of 870 miles of new pipeline, mainly in Quebec and New Brunswick. It has long-term contracts to carry about 900,000 barrels of oil a day along the route, Mr. Girling said.

“They’re in for a fight,” John Bennett, the executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada, said shortly after the announcement. Mr. Bennett said he was particularly concerned about the possibility of oil spills in the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick and about harm to whales in the area from tanker traffic. In a statement, Environmental Defence said the plan was “yet another misguided scheme that puts Canadians in harm’s way for the benefit of the oil industry’s bottom line.”

State Department contractor lied Transcanada ties, another fatal flaw of Keystone environmental review

By Steve Horn, DeSmog Blog

The contractor the Obama U.S. State Department hired for the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) of the northern half of TransCanada’s Keystone XL (KXL) tar sands export pipeline overtly lied on its conflict-of-interest disclosure form that it signed and handed to State in June 2012.

A major research dossier unfurled today by Friends of the Earth-U.S. (FOE-U.S.) and The Checks & Balances Project (CBP) shows that Environmental Resources Management, Inc. (ERM Group) played “Pinocchio” in explaining its ties – or as they say, lack thereof – to Big Oil, tar sands and TransCanada in particular on its conflict-of-interest form.

The two groups dug deep and revealed State’s contractor ERM and its subsidiary Oasis Environmental both have ongoing contractual relationships with the Alaska Gas Project – now known as the South Central LNG Project – co-owned by TransCanada, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and BP. Further, ERM’s Socioeconomic Advisor Mark Jennings served as a “Consultant to ExxonMobil Development Company for the Alaska Pipeline Project, according to his now-scrubbed LinkedIn profile.

ERM’s own documents – FOE-U.S. and CBP further explain – also reveal the multinational firm has business ties with over a dozen companies active in the Alberta tar sands, including Exxon, Shell, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, Total and Syncrude.

On its conflict-of-interest form, ERM said it had no “direct or indirect relationship … with any business entity that could be affected in any way by the proposed work.” Clearly, that’s far from the case.

In March, ERM Group – a City of London-based dues-paying member of the American Petroleum Institute (API) with a history of rubber-stamping ecologically hazardous oil and gas infrastructure projects – said KXL’s northern half “is unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development” of the tar sands in its SEIS. Thus, it will also have little impact on climate change, according to ERM’s SEIS, contracted out by TransCanada on behalf of the State Department.

FOE-U.S. says these most recent developments further call the entire SEIS into question, and that doesn’t include the fact that State recently revealed it’s clueless as to the exact route of the Keystone XL.

“From the beginning, the State Department’s review of Keystone has been plagued by influence peddling and conflicts of interest,” said FOE-U.S.’s Ross Hammond in a press statement.

“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?”

As PLATFORM London explains, ERM Group – also a dues-paying member of fracking industry lobbying force Marcellus Shale Coalition up until Oct. 2011 – is part of the “Carbon Web.” That’s shorthand for “the network of relationships between oil and gas companies and the government departments, regulators, cultural institutions, banks and other institutions that surround them.”

Given the state of play, both FOE-U.S. and CBP have called for State’s Office of the Inspector General to conduct a thorough investigation, examining how and why ERM was chosen. They’ve also called for a complete halt in the KXL review process until that transpires.

“Secretary Kerry must halt this flawed review process and direct the State Department to conduct a full, unbiased review of the Keystone XL pipeline’s impact,” Gabe Elsner, director of CBP said in a press statement.

“In addition, the State Department Inspector General should pursue a full investigation into how a contractor with clear conflicts of interest was allowed to write the U.S. government’s assessment of Keystone XL and why the State Department failed to bring those conflicts of interest to light. Finally, the State Department should determine appropriate disciplinary actions for ERM to discourage contractors from lying to the federal government in the future.”

Friends of the Earth U.S. has set up an action page where concerned citizens can send letters to State Secretary John Kerry calling for an investigation into the many conflicts of interest scandals within the environmental review process.

TransCanada Caught Training Police to Treat Anti-Keystone XL Activists as “Terrorists”

Native News Network

HOUSTON – In the midst of recent national controversy surrounding government surveillance of the public, a recent Freedom of Information Act request to the Nebraska State Patrol has exposed evidence that TransCanada provided trainings to federal agents and local Nebraska police to suppress nonviolent activists protesting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline by arresting them on “anti-terrorism statutes.”

Keystone XL pipeline map

Keystone XL Pipeline protests have maintained strict commitments to nonviolence.

The presentation slides, obtained by grassroots landowner advocacy group Bold Nebraska, target Tar Sands Blockade activists by name.

The Keystone XL pipeline is opposed by many American Indians across Indian county.

“This is clear evidence of the collusion between TransCanada and the federal government assisting local police to unlawfully monitor and harass political protestors,”

said Lauren Regan, legal coordinator for Tar Sands Blockade and executive director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center.

“These documents expose the truth that the government is giving the nod to unlawful corporate spying. By slinging false allegations against peaceful activists in this presentation, TransCanada puts them at risk of unwarranted prosecution.”

Although TransCanada’s presentation to authorities contains information about property destruction, sabotage, and booby traps, police in Texas and Oklahoma have never alleged, accused, or charged Tar Sands Blockade activists of any such behaviors.

Since August 2012, Tar Sands Blockade has carried out dozens of successful nonviolent direct actions to physically halt construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in Texas and Oklahoma. All of these acts, as well as every pipeline protest in Nebraska, have maintained strict commitments to nonviolence.

“Try as TransCanada might to slander Tar Sands Blockade and our growing grassroots movement, we know who the real criminals are.”

said Ron Seifert, a spokesperson with Tar Sands Blockade who was pictured in the slideshow.

“The real criminals are those profiting from this deadly tar sands pipeline by endangering families living along the route and pumping illegal levels of air toxins into fence-line communities.”

“If anything, this shows the effectiveness of campaigns to stop the Keystone XL pipeline and fossil fuel extraction as a whole,”

said Scott Parkin, an organizer with Rising Tide North America.