The chances that President Obama will delay a decision on permitting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline grow by the day — so climate hawks need to keep the pressure on.
Last week, Obama asserted that he would make the decision, not the State Department, and he explicitly cited risks to drinking water and public health. Sunday’s anti-pipeline rally was the largest White House protest since the invasion of Iraq and a clear signal that the environmental community would hold Obama accountable for his decision.
Now TP Green reports:
In response to a congressional request, the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General has launched a review of the Keystone XL pipeline approval process. The State Department is tasked with conducting the environmental review of TransCanada’s proposed tar sands pipeline from Canada to Texas for a Presidential Permit decision. Beginning with the Bush administration, the process has been largely outsourced to a contractor chosen and paid for by TransCanada, with only a single staffer overseeing the work. Meanwhile, lobbyists with close ties to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have aggressively pushed for approval on behalf of the foreign oil company. The request for an investigation was made by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and eleven Democratic members of the House of Representatives.
Here is the audit letter:
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), who was the only member of Congress to attend yesterday’s anti-Keystone rally outside the White House, responds: “The recent allegations of corruption and conflicts of interest are disconcerting, and I appreciate that the Office of Inspector General is investigating the State Department’s review process. As stated in a previous letter to the President, I ask that he withhold any final decision on the pipeline until the investigation is complete.”
The President should simply reject the permit, but failing that, at the very least he should start the entire environmental review process over again, as Climate Progress has previously urged.