Tom Steyer Letter to Secretary Kerry Regarding the Keystone XL Environmental
SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 2, 2014
SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 2, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Earlier today, NextGen Climate
Action President Tom Steyer sent the following letter to Secretary of State
John Kerry regarding theState Department's Final Environmental Impact
Statement on the Keystone XL pipeline.
Secretary John Kerry
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
I am sure you know thatI have the utmost respect forthe leadership you bring
to theState Departmentwhen it comes to addressing the challenge of global
At his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, President Obama made clear the
Administration's position when he stated that climate change is a fact.
For those of us in California experiencing an historic drought, as well as for
those across the country who have been dealing with extreme weather, climate
change affects us every day – impacting our economy, our health and our
Many of ushave beenheartenedto hear thatamidst your many pressing
responsibilities,you intend to takeanactive roleinadvising thePresident
on his decision regarding the Keystone XL pipeline.
In light of the concerns enumerated below, Iurge you to launchan
independentand transparent review of thework product containedin the
Keystone XL PipelineEnvironmental Impact Statement (FEIS)released last
Ofparticularconcern areFEIS conclusions thatconflict with and are
contradictedbytar sands industry executives who confirm that they
needthepipelinein order to continue to develop the tar sands and to
reachinternational markets.The FEIS fails to consider that construction of
the KXL pipeline is a necessity to fully maximize extraction of tar sands.
Attachedis an analysis of such assertions by tar sands executives, which
includes such statements as:
o"If Canada fails to develop itsoil sandsnow — and fails to build the
pipelines to move it to market — the opportunity could vanish for decades,
two industry executives warned Wednesday." "Oil sands development is now
or never, industry executives say," Toronto Star, 1/15/14
o"If there were no more pipeline expansions, I would have to slow down,"
theCenovusexecutive told The Globe and Mail's editorial board. "Oil
industry rebuts 'trash-talking' celebrity critics," The Globe and Mail,
o"The pipeline has to be done,"[Total] Chief Executive Officer Christophe
deMargerie told reporters at theWorld Economic Forum inDavos. "Total
CEO Urges Keystone Approval To Unplug Alberta Bottleneck," Bloomberg News
These assertions reinforce the findings by NextGen Climate Action in late
November of last year which demonstrate the pipeline is the economic key to
unlocking the tar sands and, as such, will lead to more pollution in the air
than would be generated if the pipeline was not built.
Both the statements from the tar sands executives and the NextGen Climate
Action report make clear the pipeline would fail the test established by the
President during his speech at Georgetown last June: that no project that
increases the amount of air pollution will be approved.
However, and despite the fact that some of the aforementioned assertions from
tar sands executives were made as recently as last week, itdoes not appear
that any of these representations were considered in the FEIS.
How can the foreign companies who stand to financially benefit from the
approval of the KXL pipeline assert that the pipeline is the key to their
ability to develop the tar sands without these assertionsbeing considered
material to this report? This was a report that was designed to analyze
exactly this issue of whether or not the pipeline would affect the development
of the tar sands.
TransCanada and the tar sands lobby has time and time again justified the
development of the pipeline by making the public policy argument that the
pipeline would support U.S. oil independence. But TransCanada has refused to
commit to keeping the refined oil in the United States.
However, as you are aware from your time in Congress, whileTransCanada's CEO
has asserted that "every" drop of crude would stay in the United States,
company officials haverefused to testify to this whenappearingbefore
Congress. And to this day, TransCanada has refused toexplain whetheror not
the refined oilwill be shipped to economic competitorssuch as China, which
hasa significant investment in theproject.
The failure to address the assertions made by tar sand oil executives that the
pipeline is the key to unlocking the tar sandsis the latest in a series of
problems. Together, they make it clear it would be a disservice to President
Obama, to our country and to the resolution of climate change touse
theFEISasa trusted document.
These problems include:
oThe hiring ofa TransCanada contractor–
EnvironmentalResourcesManagement (ERM)– to write theFEIS.
oERM's problematic representations aboutits tiesto the tar sands
industryon itsconflict of interest disclosure form.
oThe Inspector General's investigation intothis deception, an action taken
only after persistentpressurefrom public interest groups.
oAdditional conflicts(here,hereandhere)that have come to light since
the Inspector General's investigation began.
oRepeated quotes(e.g.,hereandhere)to news outlets fromnamed
andunnamedstaff membersat the State Department boastingof"rigorous
conflictof interest procedures…" that "… ensure that no contractors or
subcontractors have financial or other inappropriate interests in the
outcome of a project."Thisassertioncontinuedto be madeeven afterthe
Inspector General's investigation was announced.
oThe unsurprising tilt of thedraftFEIStowardERM'sclient, TransCanada.
oTheinteragency criticism(hereandhere)that the draft EIS
drewbecauseof its deep flaws.
oThenearly identical nature of thefinalFEISto thedraftEIS, despite
significant, contradictory information coming to light after the draft
version was issued. This includesignoringthe realities of tar sands
transportation, andestimatesthatKeystone XL wouldproduce the pollution
equivalent of more than50coal plants– an amount no serious expert
thinks can be meaningfully offset.It also ignores the $30 billion in
investment by companies backed by the Chinese government.
oThe apparent rush to get the EIS out the door before the Inspector
General's investigation was complete– despitea recent request by over 20
House membersasking thatthe FEIS be held until theinvestigationwas
And, in addition to this litany of issues that should disqualify this FEIS
report from being used as a trusted document, there is nowa report inthe
Canadian Pressthatseems to indicate officials in Ottawa were provided
withtheassurancethat they would receive the favorableFEIS that they had
lobbied so hard to secure.I have long said that Keystone is a pipeline that
runs through — but no to — the United States.If the press reporting is
accurate, it would now appear that foreign interests have a directpipeline
into the decision-making process of the U.S. government, which is simply
For all of these reasons, especially in the context of global climate change,
it is critical that an independent and transparent review of the FEIS, and the
process undertaken for its preparation, commence immediately. It is
inappropriate and unfair to provide President Obama — who has stated that
climate change is a fact and even articulated a clear test for the approval of
a project such as the KXL pipeline – with a report that is not only on its
face defective, but which has suffered from a process that raises serious
questions about the integrity of the document.
Thank you for your attention to this serious matter.
SOURCE NextGen Climate Action
Contact: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone: 415-983-2319
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