State Department documents released to an environmental group are raising new questions about the hiring of a government contractor to evaluate environmental impacts of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
Environmental Resources Management has conflicts of interest that should have prevented it from winning the contract for the analysis of the controversial pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada's oil sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast, the Sierra Club has said. The group filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the State Department seeking documents that would show how Environmental Resources Management was chosen. Sierra Club provided some of the documents it received to The Huffington Post.
But the documents do not indicate that the State Department conducted its own investigation into the company's ties to pipeline operator TransCanada before approving it to produce the analysis. Environmental Resources Management's draft supplemental environmental analysis, released in March, recommended changes to the pipeline route, but declared the project would have "no significant impacts to most resources." The Obama administration's decision on the pipeline is expected sometime early next year.
Included in the documents Sierra Club obtained is a memo from a State Department staffer to Kerri-Ann Jones, assistant secretary of state for oceans and international environmental and scientific affairs, that recommends Environmental Resources Management for the pipeline contract.