FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

State Department’s Pipeline EIS Written by Pro-Oil Industry Firm

On March 1, the U.S. State Department published its long-awaited Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the TransCanada Keystone XL (KXL) tar sands pipeline.

The KXL is slated to bring tar sands crude – also known as diluted bitumen or “dilbit” – from Alberta, Canada to Port Arthur, TX. From Port Arthur, it will be refined andexported to the global market.

Flying in the face of the slew of scientific studies both on the harms of burning tar sands andon the KXL itself, State determined that laying down the pipeline is environmentally sound.

Unmentioned by State: the study was contracted out to firms with tar sands extraction clientele, as revealed by InsideClimate News.

“EnSys Energy has worked with ExxonMobil, BP and Koch Industries, which own oil sands production facilities and refineries in the Midwest that process heavy Canadian crude oil. Imperial Oil, one of Canada’s largest oil sands producers, is a subsidiary of Exxon,” InsideClimate News explained. “ICF International works with pipeline and oil companies but doesn’t list specific clients on its website.”

Writing for Grist, Brad Johnson also revealed the name of a third contractor – Environmental Resources Management (ERM) Group – which TransCanada hired on behalf of the State Department to do the EIS.

“(ERM) was paid an undisclosed amount under contract to TransCanada to write the statement, which is now an official government document,” Johnson explained. “The statement estimates, and then dismisses, the pipeline’s massive carbon footprint and other environmental impacts, because, it asserts, the mining and burning of the tar sands is unstoppable.”

ERM, a probe into the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) Tobacco Archives reveals, has deep historical ties to Big Tobacco. Further, a key employee at ICF International – via familial ties – is tied to the future of whether hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for shale oil and gas becomes a reality in New York’s portion of the Marcellus Shale.

TransCanada Utilizes Tobacco Playbook in Hiring ERM Group

ERM Group – headquarted in the City of London – a square mile sub-section of Londoninfamous for its role in serving as a tax shelter for multinational corporations – has aided the tobacco industry in pushing the “Tobacco Playbook.”

Many fossil fuel industry public relations flacks learned the tactics of mass manipulation by reading the “tobacco playbook,” meticulously documented in Naomi Oreskes’ and Erik Conway’s classic book, “Merchants of Doubt.”

Doubt is our product,” a tobacco industry document once laid out the playbook, “since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the minds of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.”

ERM has done studies on behalf of both R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris, penning a report titled “Fundamentals of Environmental Management” for the latter.

It was also a former member of the American Tort Reform Association, a group that fights to limit the tort law rights of citizens to sue for damages inflicted upon them by corporations and featured in the documentary film, “Hot Coffee.”

ERM: In-Service to Big Oil, like Big Tobacco

In the 2000 version of its website, ERM referred to climate change advocates as having an “agenda.”

“[T]he gloabl (sic) climate change agenda has very specific implications for the oil and gas industry, and factoring CO2 emissions into operations is a key concern,” read ERM’s website at the time.

The firm has also boasted of doing its studies in service to the oil and gas industry’s bottom lines.

“ERM works around the world with the private sector assessing how their business is likely to be impacted by environmental and social issues, new regulations, consumer concerns, and supply chain issues and help companies develop appropriate policies and management systems to manage these business risks,” its website proclaimed in 2000.

This all sits, of course, in juxtaposition to the needs of the decaying ecosystem andincreasingly severe and horrifying climate crisis.

The ICF/New York Fracking Decision Connection

ICF Consulting is a thread tying the forthcoming fracking decision in New York by Democratic Party Gov. Andrew Cuomo to the Obama State Department decision on the Keystone XL.

Though ICF doesn’t list its clients on its website, its vice president Karl Hausker is the husband of Kathleen (“Katie”) McGinty, one of the members of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel.

McGinty formerly served as Vice President Al Gore’s top climate aide under the Clinton Administration, segueing from that position into one as chair of the Clinton Council on Environmental Quality from 1993-1998. From 2003-2008, she served as head of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection under Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell, helping usher in the state’s ongoing fracking boom.

Named as a member of the industry-stacked Obama DOE fracking subcommittee in May 2011, McGinty now works as an Operating Partner alongside Rendell at Element Partners, a Philadelphia, PA-based firm that has capital investments in several firms operating in Pennsylvania’s portion of the Marcellus Shale. McGinty also serves on the Board of Directors of NRG Energy, an electricity-generating utilities corporation that owns natural gas-fired power plants around the U.S.

Tying it all together, Ernest Moniz is leaving his position on ICF’s Board and his professorship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he was a major “frackademic,” to serve as head of the Obama DOE.

In chess, moves of this sort are known as “check” and “checkmate.”

The weeks and months ahead will demonstrate if the chess match is over with regards to the destiny of the Keystone XL pipeline and fracking in the Empire State.

Steve Horn is a Madison, WI-based freelance investigative journalist and Research Fellow at DeSmogBlog.

More articles by:

Steve Horn is a freelance investigative journalist and Research Fellow at DeSmogBlog, where this piece first appeared.

January 22, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
On the Brink of Brexit: the Only Thing Most People Outside Westminster Know About Brexit is That It’s a Mess
Raouf Halaby
The Little Brett Kavanaughs from Covington Catholic High
Craig Collins
Why Did Socialism Fail?
Dean Baker
The Trump Tax Cut is Even Worse Than They Say
Stanley L. Cohen
The Brazen Detention of Marzieh Hashemi, America’s Newest Political Prisoner
Karl Grossman
Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars
Haydar Khan
The Double Bind of Human Senescence
Alvaro Huerta
Mr. President, We Don’t Need Your Stinking Wall
Howard Lisnoff
Another Slugger from Louisville: Muhammad Ali
Nicole Patrice Hill – Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Scarlet “I”: Climate Change, “Invasive” Plants and Our Culture of Domination
Jonah Raskin
Disposal Man Gets His Balls Back
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail