(NAFB)--This week - the political battle over how to define what doesn’t significantly exacerbate greenhouse gas emissions - which President Obama said it would take for him to support the proposed Keystone XL pipeline - is still raging. The American Petroleum Institute revealed a new eight-state advertising campaign to support the project - while environmental groups reintroduced conflict of interest charges against a State Department contractor. Also - California Representative Henry Waxman and Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse wrote a letter to the State Department saying the pipeline doesn’t meet the President’s climate test. A few months ago - the State Department issued a preliminary environmental impact statement saying approval of the pipeline wouldn’t impact the climate - but the Congressmen say that analysis was fundamentally flawed. They also argued recent opposition in Canada cast doubt on the viability of alternative pipeline routes within the country.
Environmental groups say the international consulting firm ERM - which the State hired to help write its report on the pipeline and is a member of the American Petroleum Institute - didn’t disclose conflicts of interest. However - the State Department says they have known about ERM’s other projects and most reputable environmental consulting firms working in the pipeline industry have done business for big oil and gas corporations. State Department Spokesman Jen Psaki says the Department’s rigorous conflict of interest procedures ensure that no contractors or subcontractors have financial or other interests in the outcome of a project.
The State Department isn’t expected to complete its final report on the pipeline until late summer or early fall - but TransCanada has pushed ahead with the southern part of the project - supported by President Obama. According to TransCanada - 80-percent of the southern part is complete and should be ready by the end of the year.