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Susan Rice, Top Candidate For Secretary Of State, Has Millions Tied To Canadian Tar Sands

By Stephen Lacey  

"Susan Rice, Top Candidate For Secretary Of State, Has Millions Tied To Canadian Tar Sands"

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Most of the attacks against Susan Rice, Obama’s supposed top pick for Secretary of State, have come from Republicans. But now the left — mainly groups opposed to developing Canadian tar sands — may have some reasons to question Rice.

According to a report from OnEarth Magazine, Rice has millions of dollars tied up in top Canadian energy companies — including TransCanada, the company pushing for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

The 1,700 mile Keystone XL pipeline would pipe carbon-intensive tar sands crude from Alberta to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. Because the pipeline crosses international borders, its approval falls under the jurisdiction of the State Department. That means Rice — or any other candidate tapped to head the State Department — would be responsible for approving or rejecting the project.

Here’s what the OnEarth investigation of Rice’s finances found:

Rice’s financial holdings could raise questions about her status as a neutral decision maker. The current U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Rice owns stock valued between $300,000 and $600,000 in TransCanada, the company seeking a federal permit to transport tar sands crude 1,700 miles to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast, crossing fragile Midwest ecosystems and the largest freshwater aquifer in North America.

Beyond that, according to financial disclosure reports, about a third of Rice’s personal net worth is tied up 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. Rice and her husband own at least $1.25 million worth of stock in four of Canada’s eight leading oil producers, as ranked by Forbes magazine. That includes Enbridge, which spilled more than a million gallons of toxic bitumen into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in 2010 – the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history.

Rice also has smaller stakes in several other big Canadian energy firms, as well as the country’s transportation companies and coal-fired utilities. Another 20 percent or so of her personal wealth is derived from investments in five Canadian banks. These are some of the institutions that provide loans and financial backing to TransCanada and its competitors for tar sands extraction and major infrastructure projects, such as Keystone XL and Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, which would stretch 700 miles from Alberta to the Canadian coast.

And also this:

According to her most recent financial disclosure reports, along with her TransCanada investments, Rice and her husband own at least $1.5 million worth of stock in Enbridge (Canada’s No. 3 oil producer, according to Forbes), Cenovus (No. 7), and Encana (No. 8), as well as at least $1.25 million in Imperial (No. 2), $50,000 to $100,000 in Suncor (No. 1), and $15,000 to $50,000 in Canadian Natural (No. 6). (TransCanada is ranked at No. 5 by Forbes.) The couple has at least $1.25 million invested in Transalta, Alberta’s largest coal-fired electricity power producer, and at least $1.5 million in Canadian Pacific Railway, which transports coal, oil, and gas and has been a major financial beneficiary of the North American energy boom.

Calling development of the tar sands “game over” for the climate, environmental groups are making the Keystone XL pipeline their number one fight after the election. Although Rice has had no connection to the decision making process around Keystone XL, her finances raise more concerns from environmental groups working to shut down the pipeline.

Over the past 18 months, a number of questionable relationships between State Department officials and TransCanada have been uncovered.

In July of last year, WikiLeaks released a diplomatic cable from the State Department’s energy envoy written in 2009. In that cable, the official said he had “alleviated” the Canadian government’s concerns about getting tar sands crude into the U.S., and instructed them on how to improve their “oil sands messaging” by “increasing visibility and accessibility of more positive news stories.”

Last October, it was revealed that the State Department contractor performing the environmental assessment of Keystone XL was deeply connected to the pipeline’s developer, TransCanada. Also in October of 2011, emails obtained from the State Department showed that officials in the agency were coaching TransCanada about how to navigate the regulatory process, raising questions about the coziness of the relationship between the two parties.

And in December of 2011, four members of Congress were called out by the Sunlight Foundation for owning shares in TransCanada while also pushing legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

“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,” said Bill McKibben, one of the activists leading the fight against Keystone XL, to OnEarth.

If Rice eventually becomes Secretary of State, she could recuse herself from any decision on Keystone XL. The White House has not yet commented on Rice’s financial stake in these Canadian energy companies.

Rice’s financial holdings could raise questions about her status as a neutral decision maker. The current U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Rice owns stock valued between $300,000 and $600,000 in TransCanada, the company seeking a federal permit to transport tar sands crude 1,700 miles to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast, crossing fragile Midwest ecosystems and the largest freshwater aquifer in North America.

Beyond that, according to financial disclosure reports, about a third of Rice’s personal net worth is tied up 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. Rice and her husband own at least $1.25 million worth of stock in four of Canada’s eight leading oil producers, as ranked by Forbes magazine. That includes Enbridge, which spilled more than a million gallons of toxic bitumen into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in 2010 – the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history.

Rice also has smaller stakes in several other big Canadian energy firms, as well as the country’s transportation companies and coal-fired utilities. Another 20 percent or so of her personal wealth is derived from investments in five Canadian banks. These are some of the institutions that provide loans and financial backing to TransCanada and its competitors for tar sands extraction and major infrastructure projects, such as Keystone XL and Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, which would stretch 700 miles from Alberta to the Canadian coast.

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28 Responses to Susan Rice, Top Candidate For Secretary Of State, Has Millions Tied To Canadian Tar Sands

  1. Bill Wilson says:

    Just say No to KeystoneXL and ask her to divest for the common good not her uncomon profits.

  2. Tom says:

    Wow! I think this says a lot about her, and it says she is NOT suited to be Secretary of State. That job requires making correct decisions with limited information.

    Here she had almost limitless information and she made the wrong call.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      This is, in my opinion, the very least of the plethora of reasons why she is not cut out to be US Secretary of State- or, thinking cynically, precisely why she is such an apt candidate.

  3. Jim McKay says:

    correction: you say…

    Not true. The largest inland spill in US history is the Kirtland Air Force Base Jet Fuel spill into Albuquerque’s primary drinking water supply, our aquifer. It is now estimated at 24 million gallons, more then twice the volume of the Exxon Valdez spill.

    It is an ongoing rape of Albuquerque’s environment, with the Air Force lying about every aspect of it: it’s size, magnitude: eg. the EDB “plume” dissolved in this water is 3.5 miles + east of original spill, arrival at nearest pumping station is imminent, yet the Air Force won’t fork over a lousy $120k for a monitoring well in this location, while repeatedly telling our public they “own” the problem and are committed to cleanup.

    Cleanup for this spill will be, if it ever happens… minimum $100b.

    This is a massive crime, few here in our magnificent city comprehend the threat for out future… just having safe water for all those who will live here in the future…

    A consumate, saturating critical mass of ignorance here. Yet, getting Senators, our local water authority, and other “officials” charged w/responsability for managing our water and ensuring it’s safety, just… don’t have time to stop, get sufficiently informed to realize how important this is.

    Instead, we read in our local papers that funding of +/- $400b is a done deal, so that Kirtland can “refurbish” some 1000′s of apparently aging nukes, to ensure they will blow up no matter what, if needed for who knows what somewhere down the road.

    The momentum which directs these $$ is surrounded by so many political firewalls… preventing even the beginning of inquiry and honest accessment of this allocation of resources that *we* finance w/our taxes… really, unbelievable. Or rather, after $20t of taxpayer bailouts to Wall Street crooks who bankrupted us, and taxpayer funded $7t for the IRAQ lie (Exxon did get those Iraqi oil fields a few months ago, BTW… the *real* reason many of us thought we really went in there to “liberate”)…

    So we’re told there is “no money” to clean up our water… just ain’t there.

    Nobody wants to talk about this… nobody.

    We are on a collision course w/disaster… not just here but much of the rest of the country similarly running out of water, yet… somehow, US citizens seem incapable of coalescing around purposeful agreement so that they can steer our resources towards what we *need* just to live, somehow seemingly instead, *believing* that somehow it’s all just going to workout… it will get done.

    I think it is this malaise, ignorant powerlessness…. inundated all the time for so long with misinformation about everything… people just are too asleep.

    Currently, just the Air Force alone (forget Navy/Marines/Army) has 42 SuperFund sites. And… not a one is cleaned up. Worse, the information given to the public by the various authorities that be is flat out lieing about DOD efforts to clean ‘em up… suggesting minimal cost technology such as SVE will get the job done, when… by the laws of physics/chemistry/biology and gravity, it is impossible to do so.

    A… lie.

    OMFG… what the hell is going on amongst us. For a nation that likes to call itself Christian, never before… on this scale, has the Biblical (to borrow Joe Romm’s term) “metaphor”..

    … see it all the time.

    Way too many people, having a few $$ in the bank, use that as their justification for “everything’s just a-ok”, that it’s “some else’s problem”, to the point that, well… they just really don’t wat to be bothered.

    They get pissed off… sure. And they have plenty of people they are angry at, yes. All that stuff. But *choose* to do whatever it takes to tur this around… people live a whole lifetime, but just don’t have time for… any of this.

  4. Mike Roddy says:

    Rice might as well be Condoleeza, who had a Chevron tanker named after her.

    This is one more example of why DC won’t act unless, as Roosevelt said, we make them.

  5. David Kronner says:

    This is very relevant information for me given my support for Bill McKibben ,and the environmental movement .I’d like more info on this issue.Susan Rice looked like a great candidate for Sec.State.Maybe if she recused herself on issues regarding Keyston Xl.

  6. Robert says:

    Assuming all of this is true, is this really the sort of folk we want in the highest echelons of government?

    Speaking for me: No.

    It’s time to call these people out. Profiting so brazenly from the ruination of our livable planet is not respectable, it’s not responsible, and it’s not acceptable.

  7. Rick says:

    It’s a shame the Obama admin can’t pick honest and real people. Once again, the wrong person for the position, and the wrong person for the health of this planet.

  8. Jim McKay says:

    correction (be nice to have an edit option on comments here: left my quotes out, presumably something wrong w/my use of your tags: looks like your blockquote does not work properly. Previewing now, more common begin/end enclosing seems to work)…

    At top, below: “You say”… I omitted this:

    “That includes Enbridge, which spilled more than a million gallons of toxic bitumen into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in 2010 – the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history”

    Correction # 2: After…

    (to borrow Joe Romm’s term) “metaphor”

    I intended to quote:

    it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

    Has nothing to do with “having” or “not having” money. It ha to do with choices, for life… committing to actions/work/activitirs which truly ad, or contribute value… As opposed to, what we’re increasingly doing on broader scale, having the * acquiring* of money supersede any contribution, whatsoever, for which the money… simply an agreed up measurement of value, is exchanged.

    We have people controlling the money, it’s in “their care”, and they have truly made the having and acquiring of it a blinding incentive, to the exclusion of not just what money is (a symbol, for honest interactions), but in doing so are directing the whole damn nation by making their “haul” into a bigger haul, increasingly on larger scale both excluding larger public from opportuities to fully participate in “directions” and “choices”, but by virtue of agreeents w/money, simeoultaneously excluding sooo many from access to resources available from money, by which they may utilize “stuff” to do things better.

    This is, AFAIC… a prescription for being against life, and lieing about it, w/very predictable results.

  9. Brent Winecoff says:

    Regardless of her investments Susan Rice is an honorable person. She is smart enough to know when to recuse herself from a decision and pass it on to the White House or Interior Dept.

    • Eric says:

      The general tone of the comments here, along with the author, are strikingly short-sided. To necessarily suggests she is going to engage in decisions which are counter to the US is lacking clear thinking. I would ask, did Hillary Clinton act counter to the US. Bill and Hillary are worth millions and Bill received donations from foreign countries and companies for his foundation and has for year. Some things he had to let go and others they had to provide very detailed account of the sources of their donations as well as income. Susan Rice is no different. She has filed financial disclosure forms for years and there was nothing untoward about what she and her husband invested in.

  10. I thought Rice was Golden? Seems the tides turn in one day. Sure folks want Kerry as Secretary of State?

  11. M Tucker says:

    Liberals who just can’t get away from investing in the enemy. This sort of AGW nonchalance is actually quite prevalent among liberals and Mike Roddy is right we have to make them change. They do not seem to have the ability to see for themselves what must be done.

  12. To recuse or not to recuse, that is not the question.

    Divesting is the question. This goes way beyond the issue of Keystone. If this woman becomes Secretary of State, she’ll be tied to a fossil-feul economy agenda. And, she probably has such a “practical” mentality — i.e., renewables are the enemy.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Divesting comes too late. The attitude is plain, the mentality will not change, and, after providing useful service, she can get all her shares back, perhaps increased in value. She may even hop on the revolving-door merry-go-round that propels people from Government to ‘Think-Tanks’ to corporates suites to ‘academia’, all while being well rewarded by the ‘Secret Team’.

    • Artful Dodger says:

      Right. So let’s suggest a better alternative candidate? Who is better? Who is not heavily invested in the Status Quo? Get’s harder now, don’t it?

      Well, it can still be done. How about Colin Powell? As an aside, just imagine what Mitt Romney must have been hiding! And how important these disclosure requirements are for 2016.

  13. julia lewis says:

    @David Kronner – Re wanting more info. What none of the news articles on this mentions is the connection between China state-owned companies and shares in Canadian oilsands/pipeline. I live in Alberta so we get news all the time on this. This to me is the biggest conflict of interest. Google china + oilsands + pipeline.

  14. Joan Savage says:

    A third of Rice and her husband’s wealth is based outside the US. That is an interesting factor, even taken alone, in examining a candidate Secretary of State. I wonder how if previous Secretaries had as much international investment, or even more.

  15. Mark says:

    Mrs. Rice and her husband have total assets between $23 million and $43 million.

    Anybody know how/when a wife who has worked mainly in government and think-tanks, and a husband who has worked mainly as a TV news producer accrued this amount of assets?

  16. Jamie Ross says:

    Her husband was born in Canada – that might explain the disproportionate Canadian investments. Where did they get their money?

  17. nyc-tornado-10 says:

    Until now, i supported her nomination, and i am somewhat hawkish on foriegn policy. I did not like the way the state department hadled the ben ghazi story, but that was par for the course with state, i don’t blame rice for that.

    This is different, a third of her wealth is tied up in fossil fuel, and global warming is THE threat of our time and all time. It is rare that i hope the republicans succeede, although this is not for the same reason. Do not let the republicans know about this, they may vote for rice!

  18. texaslib says:

    Sure seems strange that Obama administration didn’t catch this before she got so much chatter for the position. Or maybe they did and that’s why there’s been no announcement. She surely couldn’t have thought this wouldn’t be a problem for her. Maybe another of those Obama “errors” that he ends up turning into wins, with obvious foresight and planning.

  19. Helen Snively says:

    AND.. what does this tell us about Obama’s reluctance to stop the Keystone pipeline? If she can whisper in his ear, can we trust him on that? What do we have to do to balance her out?