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11/29/2012 02:16 PM     print story email story  

Susan Rice, Potential Sec't of State Candidate, Has Major Stake in Tar Sands Development

SustainableBusiness.com News

The news media has been overflowing with reports about Republican's objections to Susan Rice potentially taking over as Secretary of State, but they have yet to mention her extensive investments in tar sands companies. 

That was revealed in On Earth, the magazine produced by the Natural Resource Defense Fund (NRDC).

Why should it matter that she holds investments in over a dozen companies that stand to benefit from tar sands expansion - including about $600,000 in TransCanada stock?

Because the State Department is in charge of doing the environmental analysis that determines whether TransCanada's  XL pipeline gets approved, and the department will sign off on its approval. 

Last year, President Obama ordered the department to conduct a second environmental analysis after emails exposed a complicitous relationship between a TransCanada lobbyist and State Department officials and after the agency assigned the environmental impact review to a company that has financial ties to TransCanada.

"We have conveyed very clearly that a conflict of interest, such as a candidate for this position, holding stock in TransCanada or other tar sands companies is not acceptable," says Susan Casey-Lefkowitz of NRDC. Those holdings would have be dumped to comply with ethics rules if Rice becomes Sec't of State.


Here are excerpts from Scott Dodd's article on the subject in On Earth:  

Susan Rice, the candidate believed to be favored by President Obama to become the next Secretary of State, holds significant investments in more than a dozen Canadian oil companies and banks that would stand to benefit from expansion of the North American tar sands industry and construction of the proposed $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline. If confirmed by the Senate, one of Rice's first duties likely would be consideration, and potentially approval, of the controversial mega-project.

Rice's financial holdings could raise questions about her status as a neutral decision maker. The current U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Rice owns stock valued between $300,000 and $600,000 in TransCanada, the company seeking a federal permit to transport tar sands crude 1,700 miles to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast, crossing fragile Midwest ecosystems and the largest freshwater aquifer in North America.

Beyond that, according to financial disclosure reports, about a third of Rice's personal net worth is tied up in oil producers, pipeline operators, and related energy industries north of the 49th parallel -- including companies with poor environmental and safety records on both U.S. and Canadian soil.

Rice and her husband own at least $1.25 million worth of stock in four of Canada's eight leading oil producers, as ranked by Forbes magazine. That includes Enbridge, which spilled more than a million gallons of toxic bitumen into Michigan's Kalamazoo River in 2010 -- the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history.

Rice also has smaller stakes in several other big Canadian energy firms, as well as the country's transportation companies and coal-fired utilities. Another 20 percent or so of her personal wealth is derived from investments in five Canadian banks. These are some of the institutions that provide loans and financial backing to TransCanada and its competitors for tar sands extraction and major infrastructure projects, such as Keystone XL and Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, which would stretch 700 miles from Alberta to the Canadian coast.

In 2010, for instance, when Rice and her husband held at least $1.5 million in Royal Bank of Canada, the institution was labeled Canada's most environmentally irresponsible company by the Rainforest Action Network for its support of tar sands development. Public pressure from environmentalists and Canada's First Nations tribes convinced the bank to stop funding tar sands projects earlier this year.

"The State Department has been rife with collusion with the Canadian pipeline builders, and it's really distressing to have any sense that that might continue to go on," says Bill McKibben of 350.org and Tar Sands Action.

Leading Keystone opponents say they wouldn't necessarily oppose Rice's nomination - but they would want someone else in charge of deciding the pipeline's fate. "It would be one of the first decisions she would make, and she's not qualified to make an unbiased decision," says Jane Kleeb, executive director of Bold Nebraska

Read the full article:

Website: www.onearth.org/article/susan-rice-obama-secretary-state-tar-sands-finances



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