Twenty-five House Democrats want President Obama to further delay a pivotal ruling on the Keystone XL pipeline until the State Department’s internal watchdog completes a probe of State’s environmental review of the project.
The inspector general at State is investigating allegations that a contractor that the department is using for the study, consulting firm Environmental Resources Management, has a conflict of interest. The inquiry isn’t slated for completion until early 2014 at the earliest. The Democrats, in a new letter to Obama, say State’s analysis of the project should not be finalized until the IG probe is done.
“If the allegations that ERM lied to the Department of State about its conflicts of interest turn out to be true, the Department of State must conduct a new [environmental impact statement] that is not tainted by conflicts of interest,” states the letter from Reps. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, Kathy Castor of Florida, and other Democratic lawmakers.
Environmentalists have alleged that ERM failed to disclose a financial tie to Keystone pipeline developer TransCanada, a claim that TransCanada has rejected, according to Bloomberg.
The open letter is designed to ratchet up pressure on the White House as a decision on a permit for the project draws closer. The outcome of State’s final environmental analysis, which is believed to be near completion, will very likely forecast whether the White House approves the pipeline.
Keystone would bring hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil each day from Alberta’s oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries. State has a role in approving the permit because the pipeline would cross international boundaries.
A draft analysis by the State Department in March dealt a major blow to environmentalists who claim the pipeline would worsen climate change by hastening carbon-intensive oil sands production in Alberta. The draft study found that either approving or rejecting the project, contrary to environmentalists’ claims, would have very little effect on the rate of oil sands production expansion.
Obama has said he will not approve Keystone unless he’s confident that the pipeline would not significantly add to climate change.
What We're Following See More »
In a lengthy Facebook post, Mark Zuckerberg responded to reports that Cambridge Analytica had accessed the personal data of 50 million users, and kept the data after being told by the social media company to delete it. "I started Facebook," wrote Zuckerberg, "and at the end of the day I'm responsible for what happens on our platform ... While this specific issue involving Cambridge Analytica should no longer happen with new apps today, that doesn't change what happened in the past." On Monday, Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, called for “Mr. Zuckerberg and other CEOs” to testify "about social media manipulation in the 2016 election."
"The White House is backing a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill despite opposition from some House conservatives ... 'The President and the leaders discussed their support for the bill, which includes more funds to rebuild the military, such as the largest pay raise for our troops in a decade, more than 100 miles of new construction for the border wall and other key domestic priorities, like combatting the opioid crisis and rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure,' White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement." The details of the bill are expected to be released later today.
The Federal Reserve bumped the key rate from 1.5 to 1.75 percent, "the highest level since 2008 but still low by historical standards." The board "signaled it would raise rates two more times this year, part of an ongoing move away from the extraordinary measures it took to boost the economy during and after the great recession."
"Administration officials said they expect Congress to pass a stopgap bill to avert a third government shutdown this year as lawmakers scramble to finalize a must-pass omnibus spending bill. White House legislative affairs director Marc Short told CNN Tuesday that negotiators are getting closer to reaching an agreement, but there are "too many obstacles to tackle" for the omnibus bill to make it out of the lower chamber by Thursday."