Grijalva: GAO Set to Investigate Keystone Conflict

Arizona Democrat seeks probe of State Department contracting.

TUSCON, AZ - APRIL 24: U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) denounces Arizona's tough new immigration law on April 24, 2010 in Tuscon, Arizona. Grijalva, who shut his Tuscon office the day before because of death threats, called for an economic boycott of Arizona because of the new law, which he called racist. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
National Journal
Clare Foran
Feb. 25, 2014, 10:44 a.m.

Rep. Raul Gri­jalva said Tues­day that the Gov­ern­ment Ac­count­ab­il­ity Of­fice will audit of State De­part­ment pro­ced­ures for se­lect­ing con­tract­ors and en­sur­ing the cred­ib­il­ity of en­vir­on­ment­al im­pact state­ments fol­low­ing al­leg­a­tions that the firm hired to re­view the pro­posed Key­stone XL pipeline had a con­flict of in­terest.

“We’re ask­ing the Gov­ern­ment Ac­count­ab­il­ity Of­fice to look in­to all these fa­cets with­in the State De­part­ment, look at the con­flict is­sue “¦ noth­ing should be glossed over; noth­ing should be ig­nored,” Gri­jalva said Tues­day.

The Ari­zona Demo­crat sent a let­ter on Tues­day re­quest­ing the audit. A GAO spokes­man said that the let­ter has been re­ceived, but the of­fice has not yet reached a fi­nal de­cision on wheth­er or not to move for­ward with the re­view.

The State De­part­ment’s Of­fice of In­spect­or Gen­er­al is already con­duct­ing an in­quiry in­to a po­ten­tial con­flict of in­terest between En­vir­on­ment­al Re­sources Man­age­ment, the firm hired by State to carry out the en­vir­on­ment­al-im­pact as­sess­ment for Key­stone, and Tran­sCanada, the com­pany plan­ning to build the pipeline.

But Gri­jalva said a third-party in­vest­ig­a­tion is ne­ces­sary to en­sure ac­count­ab­il­ity.

“We have a tain­ted product on our hands,” Gri­jalva said. “A de­cision made on that in­form­a­tion is not only go­ing to be ques­tioned but its cred­ib­il­ity is go­ing to be zero.”

A fi­nal en­vir­on­ment­al-im­pact state­ment for the pro­ject was re­leased last month. It con­cluded that con­struc­tion of the pipeline would have a neg­li­gible im­pact on car­bon emis­sions.

Pres­id­ent Obama has said he will only ap­prove the pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada’s tar sands to U.S. re­finer­ies on the Gulf Coast, if it does not sig­ni­fic­antly add to at­mo­spher­ic levels of car­bon.

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