What Happens When Corruption Is Legal?

Eric Zuesse 
RINF Alternative News

The Office Of Inspector General (IG) of the U.S. State Department has determined that all of the corruption that was entailed in the preparation of the Hillary Clinton State Department’s two Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) on the TransCanada corporation’s proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, and that is still present in the John Kerry State Department’s final EIS, was legal.

Prior to issuing that judgment, the Sierra Club (SC) and Friends of the Earth (FOE) had written to the IG alleging that the company that the Hillary Clinton State Department had chosen to write the second of the two draft EISs, Environmental Resource Management Group Inc. (ERM), and that was heavily involved in writing the John Kerry State Department’s “Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL Project,” should have been disqualified from involvement in it, because:

“The State Department improperly selected ERM without conducting any independent inquiry into potential conflicts of interest, thus ignoring previous OIG [Office of the Inspector General] recommendations and its own Interim Guidance procedures.”

“ERM made false and/or misleading statements to State Department regarding potential bias and conflicts of interest.”

“ERM has extensive ties to the oil industry, including membership in multiple oil and gas industry trade organizations that support Keystone XL.”

“ERM worked on another TransCanada project during the period covered by their conflict of interest disclosure statement, and has an extensive list of additional clients that stand to benefit from approval of the proposed pipeline, but failed to disclose these relationships.”

“The State Department selected ERM based on TransCanada’s recommendation.”

“ERM gave false and/or misleading answers [on their application] … and failed to disclose its business relationships.”

“ERM has an extensive list of clients that would directly benefit from the approval of Keystone XL but failed to disclose any of these relationships.”

“ERM staff had oil industry experience they failed to disclose.”

“ERM failed to disclose its membership in numerous oil & gas trade associations.”

“The State Department failed to conduct any independent inquiry into ERM as required.”

“The Department of State attempted to conceal ERM’s past relationships with TransCanada.”

This Sierra/FOE statement was accompanied by documentation regarding each one of its points.

On February 26th came the IG’s response, in the form of their “Keystone XL Pipeline Project Compliance Follow-up Review,” and it found that none of that was illegal.

ERM was also involved in preparing the final version of the State Department’s EIS on Keystone XL, the one from the John Kerry State Department, that was issued on 31 January 2014.

All three of the versions of the State Department’s EIS on Keystone XL were prepared by a company that was chosen by TransCanada — the corporation that was proposing to build, and that would own, the Pipeline. All three of the EIS versions said that there would be no significant environmental problem arising from creating and using such a pipeline, which would carry oil from Alberta Canada’s tar sands to a Texas Gulf coast refinery for export to Europe and South America.

The IG has concluded that to deal with the global-warming issue in this way is legal.

The IG’s report did not deny any of the allegations that were made by SC and FOE.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010 , and of   CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity .