More Keystone Pipeline Shenanigans: This Time with Canadians and Failed Disclosure

Categories: Environment

canada.jpg
Photo by Ralph Buckley
The Canadian government is trying to party its way to more support for the Keystone pipeline.
The Keystone XL Pipeline has a lot of proponents, and it shouldn't come as a shock -- though it somehow still seems surprising, because, you know, it's Canada -- that one of those proponents is the Canadian government.

Yup, that place to the north where people say "Eh" a lot and take the Queen very seriously has been one of the big lobbyists pushing to get the Keystone pipeline approved and up and running. If the U.S. State Department approves the project, Canada will be sending barrels of oil over 1,700 miles from Alberta's oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries every day. But before that can happen, the Keystone pipeline has to be completed, and before it's completed, the State Department has to sign off on it.

The pipeline is a touchy subject with environmentalists, namely because of the bitumen, the sticky black tar-sands oil it will be moving. Bitumen is the type of oil that's particularly challenging to clean up in the event of a spill, and environmentalists have also argued that there may be more carbon emissions when it is burned. But while there are a lot of groups who don't want the pipeline completed, there are seemingly just as many folks from energy and labor who point out the added jobs and the fact that the influx of Canadian oil will mean the U.S. is less dependent on overseas supplies.

President Obama said last month in his big climate change speech that the project will only be approved if the carbon emissions won't be too high. Either way, Canada really wants this thing approved, to the point that the country has been waging an aggressive campaign to remind people of the warm and fuzzy relationship between Canada and the U.S., especially in relation to oil, The National Journal reports.

The Canadians have been focused on Washington D.C., giving swanky parties, running advertisements in Metro stations and national publications and lobbying hard in favor of getting the project approved.

"Until recently, Canada seemed to be playing its usual role of being polite, constructive, and sincere,"Jason Grumet, president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, told The National Journal. "This new, more-aggressive posture indicates that our neighbors may not smile and say thank you regardless of outcome."

This is a fairly unusual move for a foreign government to push this hard on one project, signaling just how important this particular project is to those crazy Canucks. The campaign is expected to ratchet up the intensity in September, around the time the decision on the Keystone is expected to be announced.

While the Canadians are giving fancy shindigs in D.C., there's been a whole mess going on over at the State Department.

The environmental group, Friends of the Earth, reviewed the company contracted to conduct an environmental study for the State Department on Keystone.

Company officials said they'd had no dealings in the past three years with TransCanada Corp. that could represent a "conflict of interest." This would be a fine and dandy little statement, except it's not true, Friends of the Earth pointed out. Environmental Resources Management had worked with TransCanada as recently as 2011. The company was brought in to work on the Alaska Pipeline Project, a collaboration between TransCanada and Exxon Mobil to bring natural gas from the North Slope to new markets, according to Environment News Service.

The group urged Secretary of State John Kerry to throw out the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and not consider the report at all when the Obama Administration makes the final decision about the Keystone.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the southern leg of the Keystone is nearing completion, and somewhere up north you know someone is most likely putting out dead rats to attract that endangered beetle that has to be removed from the pipeline route. And somewhere out there, Canadians are saying really nice things about the Keystone project. They'll likely continue talking nice and loud about it until the U.S. makes the final decision on the project, now expected sometime in September.


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