The State Department’s Office of Inspector General announced Friday it does not expect to release the results of an investigation into a possible conflict of interest in the department’s Keystone XL pipeline review until January — a move that could delay a final decision on the project until next year.
Earlier this month, the OIG began an inquiry into allegations made by the Sierra Club and other environmental groups that Environmental Resources Management, a consulting firm hired to produce the draft environmental impact statement for the pipeline, had ties to TransCanada Corp. and the American Petroleum Institute, two organizations with a key stake in the project.
TransCanada Corp. is the company set to build Keystone, and the American Petroleum Institute is a trade association, which publicly supports the pipeline.
The conflict-of-interest inquiry and the State Department’s review of the pipeline have been ongoing, and State has not yet said when it will make a final determination on Keystone XL. But Friday’s announcement that the OIG investigation results won’t be released until January makes it likely that a decision on the project will be pushed back to 2014.
“It is our hope to conclude work by the end of the year and release a report in January,” Douglas Welty, a spokesman for the OIG, said in an e-mail Friday. “As to the timing of the department’s decision — you need to ask them directly whether our work will have any impact on that.”
A State Department official did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Any additional delays are sure to prompt an outcry from congressional Republicans, who have long accused the Obama administration of tying the project up in red tape as a concession to the Democratic party’s environmental wing. The pipeline was initially scheduled for a final decision before the 2012 presidential election, but the administration pushed it back last year, saying at the time that the environmental consequences merited further inquiry.
What We're Following See More »
According to the most recent Gallup poll, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are equally disliked. The poll, conducted between July 18 and July 25, shows both major party candidates for president are viewed favorably by 37 percent of respondents and unfavorably by 58 percent of respondents. This poll is bad news for Clinton, who has received better favorable and unfavorable ratings in nearly every poll over the last year.
The same day that Donald Trump encouraged Russia to hack the State Department and "find the 30,000 emails that are missing," the GOP nominee for vice president took a more serious approach. "If it is Russia and they are interfering in our elections, I can assure you both parties and the United States government will ensure there are serious consequences," Pence said in a statement. Trump's comments at a press conference this morning were rebuked by individuals across the political spectrum, while some on Trump's team, including prominent surrogate Newt Gingrich, have called his comments a "joke."
The Federal Open Market Committee today voted to leave interest rates alone, but "upgraded its assessment of the economy’s recent performance and said near-term risks to the outlook have diminished, effectively leaving the door open to raise rates later this year, possibly as early as September."
"Spurred by VP pick Mike Pence, a former congressman with close ties to many lawmakers, the Trump campaign in recent weeks has stepped up its courtship of wary Capitol Hill Republicans. And the efforts appear to be bearing fruit." Central to the charm offensive: invitations to more than a dozen "Senate and House members into his family’s private box for some power-schmoozing with him and his kids" during the Republican National Convention.
Donald Trump essentially encouraged more Russian espionage against Democrats in a press conference this morning. "Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” he said. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” That prompted Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan to say: “Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug. Putin should stay out of this election.”