As you might have notice, we here at Spinach in Our Teeth have not yet dug into the behemoth issue of the Keystone XL pipeline. It is a very, very large issue and it seems that every day brings something new to enlarge it. So let’s get a little breakdown/timeline of events running first:
2008: TransCanda files an application to build and maintain the Keystone XL pipeline (important to note that TransCanada also owns the Keystone pipeline, which began operating in June of 2010).
April 16, 2010: DOS releases a draft environmental impact statement.
June 23, 2011: 50 Members of Congress send a letter to Secretary Clinton asking that she be sure to consider the impacts of climate change in evaluating the pipeline.
July 21, 2010: EPA states that, in its opinion, the draft environmental impact study was inadequate and needs revision.
April 15, 2011: DOS releases a supplemental draft environmental impact.
July 26, 2011: The House passes by a vote of 279-147 H.R. 1938, the North American-Made Energy Security Act, a bill that attempts to expedite the permit process by giving the White House until Nov. 1 to finish its review of the Keystone XL pipeline.
August 26, 2011: The State Department completes the final environmental impact statement (EIS). It concludes that the pipeline would “have limited environmental impacts” if operated in accordance with regulations. The 90 day review period to determine if the project qualifies for the “National Interest Determination” (NID) begins.
August 30, 2011: Opponents of the pipeline begin a two-week long protest outside the White House, arguably the largest environmental protest in recent memory. Over 1,000 people were arrested.
August 31, 2011: Nebraska’s Republican Governor, Dave Heineman, publically opposes the proposed route of the pipeline.
October 7, 2011: Previous environmental reports and articles are brought into the national spotlight with a front page article in the New York Times detailing the State Department’s assigning of the environmental impact study to Cardno Entrix, an environmental contractor with financial ties to TransCanada.
October 11, 2011: The President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, chaired by GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, endorses the pipeline.
November 2011: Federal agencies would have 15 days to agree/disagree with the State Department’s issued NID. If all agencies are not in agreement, the President will render the final decision.
December 2011: State projects a final decision will be reached. If it does permit the pipeline, TransCanada expects to have it operating by 2013.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a report claiming that the pipeline will produce 250,000 new jobs. The report is countered by Cornell University’s Global Labor Institute, which found that the pipeline would kill more jobs than it would create.
While these links cover the issue better than we could hope to do (hence why we’ve included them), there are a couple of interesting things to note about this whole debate:
1) You will notice no Republican MoC calling to investigate the State Department for allowing TransCanada to oversee the hiring of the contractor assigned to conduct the EIS. You will also hear no MoC calling to investigate the State Department for awarding Cardno Entrix, a company that describes TransCanada as a “major clients” in its marketing materials, the contract to conduct the EIS. Here is another opportunity to highlight the improper execution of the permitting process, yet Chairman Darrel Issa makes no calls for an OGR investigation. It doesn’t take too long to figure out why.
2) Numerous articles earlier this year and recently have pointed out that the infamous billionaire brothers, libertarians Charles and David Koch, have much to gain from the pipeline’s development. Anyone smell collusion?
3) As the New York Times points out, NEPA (the law that makes it so that any major federal project conducts a study its potential environmental impact) advises that contractors performing environmental impact studies “have no financial or other interest in the outcome of the project.” Unfortunately, this is just advice, and is advice that is typically overlooked when federal agencies contract out these studies. We see some room for improvement here.