One day after 12,000 protesters stood outside of the White House calling on President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, the Office of the Inspector General has announced an investigation into bias and conflicts of interest associated with the project’s permitting. The review responded to a letter sent in late October by Senator Bernie Sanders, Representative Steve Cohen and 11 other members of Congress.
The Inspector General review will look at least a half dozen bureaus associated with the evaluation of TransCanada’s permit request for its 1700 mile tar sands pipeline which would run from Alberta all the way to Houston, TX cutting straight through Nebraska’s Sandhills region and the Ogallala aquifer.
NRDC, Friends of the Earth and other groups called for a similar investigation last week. The calls for investigation have come about with recent reports exposing bias within the State Department in favor of approving the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. There are also concerns as reported in the New York Times on the conflict of interest between TransCanada, the pipeline company proposing the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, and Cardno Entrix, the contractor who drafted the environmental review for the pipeline. There is a need for the Obama administration to investigate these allegations and determine whether the environmental review process was balanced and to ensure the overall process has been fair, balanced, and impartial. It will be necessary for this investigation to be thorough and comprehensive to fully understand the depth of these problems. And it will be equally important that the State Department halts the permitting process for the pipeline until the review is complete. This will be a very interesting process to watch.