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Sierra Club Finds Negligence in Review of Keystone Pipeline Contractor



The environmental organization the Sierra Club has found that State Department officials failed to conduct a proper evaluation of contractors hired for the Keystone XL pipeline project. As part of an ongoing records request, the Sierra Club has analyzed documents showing a conflict of interest between TransCanada, the lead organization driving the cross-continental crude oil pipeline project, and subcontractor Environmental Resources Management (ERM).


The Sierra Club announced last week that “ERM employees have worked on TransCanada projects, and ERM clients potentially stand to gain financially from construction of the controversial pipeline.” This state of affairs presents a clear conflict of interest given that ERM was selected to perform the environmental review of the pipeline.


Sierra Club leadership is pointing a finger at the State Department and citing negligence for the agency’s failure to investigate the pipeline operator’s claim that ERM had not “worked for TransCanada or its subsidiaries or affiliates.”


If it were to move forward, the Keystone XL pipeline project would erect a 36-inch-diameter crude oil pipeline beginning in Alberta, Canada and extending 1,179 miles to Steele City, Nebraska. Critics of the pipeline, including Friends of the Earth, point out that the pipeline would be used to transport one of the world’s “dirtiest fuels,” tar sands oil, and that any spillage could be devastating to the environment.