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Secretary of State Favorite Has Major Stake in Canadian Tar Sands

Posted on Nov 30, 2012
AP/Evan Vucci

U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice leaves a meeting on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

It turns out that Susan Rice, President Obama’s apparent favorite for the next secretary of state, has financial investments in more than a dozen Canadian oil companies and banks that stand to profit from the growth of the North American tar sands industry and the operation of the proposed multibillion-dollar Keystone XL pipeline.

If Rice gets the job, Scott Dodd at OnEarth writes, one of her “first duties likely would be consideration, and potentially approval, of the controversial mega-project.”

Rice’s investments should raise concerns about her ability to oversee the permission of the project uninfluenced by personal financial interest. She holds between $300,000 and $600,000 worth of stock in TransCanada, the company vying for the permit to transport the crude from Canada to the Texas coast.

Roughly one-third of Rice’s personal net worth sits in “oil producers, pipeline operators, and related energy industries north of the 49th parallel—including companies with poor environmental and safety records on both U.S. and Canadian soil.” With her husband, she owns $1.25 million worth of stock in leading Canadian oil producers, and smaller stakes in several other Canadian energy companies.

An additional 20 percent of her wealth comes from investments in Canadian banks that provide loans and financial backing to companies looking to extract and transport tar sands crude. In 2010 she held at least $1.5 million in Royal Bank of Canada, an organization described by the Rainforest Action Network as Canada’s most environmentally irresponsible company.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Scott Dodd at OnEarth:

“It’s really amazing that they’re considering someone for Secretary of State who has millions invested in these companies,” said Bill McKibben, a writer and founder of the activist groups 350.org and Tar Sands Action, which have organized protests against the Keystone XL project. “The State Department has been rife with collusion with the Canadian pipeline builders, and it’s really distressing to have any sense that that might continue to go on.” Emails obtained by an environmental group last year show what critics call a “cozy and complicitous relationship” between State Department officials and a lobbyist for TransCanada, who was also a former deputy campaign director for current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s failed 2008 presidential bid. The agency also assigned an environmental impact review of the Keystone project to a company with financial ties to TransCanada.

… Were she to become Secretary of State, Rice would be in charge of the new environmental review process and would be in a position to decide whether to issue TransCanada a permit for sections of Keystone XL stretching from Oklahoma to the Canadian border. (The pipeline’s southernmost leg has already been approved and is under construction in Texas—with protesters perching in trees and chaining themselves to construction equipment in an attempt to stop it.)

… If Rice does get the Secretary of State job, federal ethics officials could recommend that she sell her stock in TransCanada and related companies before deciding on Keystone XL, Auble said. But that’s not a sure thing.

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