Dec 19, 2013 - Keystone Environmental Reviewer in Bed with Big Oil by Matt Remle
Earlier this week Politico reported that the London-based firm, Environmental Resources Management (ERM), who was contracted by the State Department to write the environmental review on the potential impacts of the KXL pipeline is a member of no fewer than five oil-industry trade groups that are pushing for approval of the KXL pipeline.
ERM is affiliated with Western Energy Alliance, the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, and the American Petroleum Institute. Additionally, two ERM staff members sit on the board of the Western States Petroleum Association. Each of these oil-industry trade groups have lobbied for the approval of the KXL pipeline.
The American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s top lobbying group, alone has spent millions lobbying for the approval of the KXL pipeline.
ERM’s draft study, released last March, concluded that “TransCanada’s Alberta-to-Texas pipeline would pose little risk to the environment.”
ERM’s final report on the potential environmental impacts from the KXL pipeline has yet to be released. Climate activists have been actively protesting the State Departments contracting of ERM due to the “potential” conflict of interest. ERM maintains that there is no conflict of interest.
If approved the KXL pipeline would bring Alberta tar sands oil to Texas for exportation. Tribes and environmental activists have strongly opposed the KXL pipeline, and other pipeline expansion projects, due to their impacts on water, treaty lands, sacred sites and global climate change.
Recent news that from 2012-2013 the state of North Dakota had over 300 oil related spills adds weight to their concerns.
In June, President Obama has stated that he would not approve the KXL pipeline if it is found to have impacts on climate change he stated, “our national interest would be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”
With environmental reviewer ERM maintaining that the pipeline would pose little risk to the environment, Obama may be setting the stage for the approval of the KXL pipeline.