Ben Gemen at The Hill reports that Secretary of State John Kerry wants a decision on the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline in the "near term, but did not define what "near term" means."
Secretary Kerry also noted his desire for a transparent process:
We, of course, all want a fair and transparent process, however, as Brad Johnson at Grist reports TransCanada is getting some remarkable access in this State Department review. It turns out that it was not a government expert or official that wrote the State Department's recent environmental impact report on the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline, but rather it was written by a contractor paid by TransCanada!
“I can guarantee you that it will be fair and transparent, accountable, and we hope that we will be able to be in a position to make an announcement in the near term,” Kerry said of the proposed Alberta-to-Texas pipeline.
The State Department’s “don’t worry” environmental impact statement for the proposed Keystone XL tarsands pipeline, released late Friday afternoon, was written not by government officials but by a private company in the pay of the pipeline’s owner. The “sustainability consultancy” Environmental Resources Management (ERM) was paid an undisclosed amount under contract to TransCanada to write the statement, which is now an official government document. The statement estimates, and then dismisses, the pipeline’s massive carbon footprint and other environmental impacts, because, it asserts, the mining and burning of the tar sands is unstoppable.
Read the entire post at Grist for more on how this came to be.
If the stakes weren't so high - either preserving a habitable planet for humanity or not - it would be laughable how corrupt and clubby these dealings between big business and government can be. But sadly, this is no laughing matter. If this reports is true, Secretary Kerry should be ashamed to have allowed this to happen so soon into his term at State. And President Obama should be thinking long and hard about the legacy he wants to leave when this second term is over.
The fight over the Keystone XL pipeline is far from the only important issue related to climate change, but it is a symbol in the making. It will either go down in history as the moment a US President stood up to the fossil fuel industry and said, "enough," becoming the first of many other major moves that are needed to address the climate change crisis on a global scale. Or it will go down in history as the moment we collectively gave up, ceding the our near term future and the future safety of coming generations to be made ever more dangerous for little more than more cheap oil to burn.
This should not be a hard decision. But what will be hard will be the harsh judgment of history on the President and Secretary of State that allows this pipeline - and the subsequent tipping points of climate change - to come to pass.
UPDATE: Mother Jones has uncovered the redacted documents that hid the identities of the TransCanada contractors that wrote the report.