Friday, just two days before thousands of protesters encircled the White House, the State Department inspector general’s office said it would launch an investigation into the vetting process for a controversial oil pipeline that would snake its way from Canada to the Gulf Coast.
Among various objections to the deal:
» One of the main lobbyists for the pipeline just so happens to have been a senior staffer on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.
» The developer was allowed to choose which company did the environmental review of the project, and it just so happened to choose one of its frequent clients.
» Contrary to the review, protesters say the pipeline could endanger environmentally sensitive areas and drinking water. They also object to the project as a doubling down on dirty energy at a time when the president has failed to deliver much hope for the climate crisis.
More than a dozen members of Congress had asked for an independent inquiry into the department’s review of the 1,700-mile pipeline, citing reports in The New York Times and elsewhere that the State Department allowed the pipeline developer, TransCanada, to choose the company that prepared an assessment of the project’s environmental impact.
That company, Cardno Entrix, listed TransCanada as a “major client” on other projects and has a financial relationship with the pipeline developer.
The assessment found that the project would have “minimal” environmental impact even though it would pass through Nebraska’s sensitive Sand Hills region and traverse the Ogallala Aquifer, a critical source of drinking water in the Great Plains. The Environmental Protection Agency raised serious objections to an earlier version of the impact statement but has not issued its final verdict.