by Rona Fried
Almost every day, we hear loud and clear about another, deeper GOP probe on Solyndra. Yesterday, the probe deepened when Rep Issa (R-CA) asked for documentation on all the solar companies that received DOE loan guarantees in September.
Just about everyone I run into has heard about the Solyndra "debacle," – it’s obviously getting out in the news across the country.
Meanwhile, the escalating story that shows illegal behavior on the part of the US State Department on approving the tar sands pipeline, goes largely unnoticed.
Even on this website, the news stories we post on the Tar Sands situation get much less attention than those on Solyndra.
Last week, emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act made it clear that the State Department has a cozy relationship with TransCanada lobbyists, the company that needs the Dept’s approval to build the pipeline.
We also reported that even before the pipeline is approved, land is being cleared in preparation for it.
Last night, while channel surfing, I happened upon CSPAN, which was broadcasting the State Dept’s final hearing on the tar sands pipeline.
I heard dozens of knowledgeable people passionately speak out against the pipeline. As they spoke, I noticed the three people conducting the hearing never flinched. They had straight faces no matter what was said.
Now, I know why. No State Dept representatives were present at the State Dept hearing because it was outsourced to a company "that conducts hearings" and that has connections with TransCanada. Will the State Dept even hear those empassioned words?
Today, we know even more. The whole game is rigged.
In August, the State Dept said the pipeline would pose little environmental risk. Since the pipeline is ALL about environmental risk – it would carry oil that produces triple the greenhouse gas emissions of conventional oil, while destroying one of the world’s most important intact rainforests, among other problems – how could they conclude that?
Now, we know why.
Unbelievably, the State Dept allowed TransCanada to solicit and screen bids for the environmental study.
Not surprisingly, TransCanada recommended the State Dept hire an environmental contractor they knew well. The contractor previously worked on TransCanada projects and included them as "major client" in marketing materials.
Obviously, the environmental impact statement should be thrown out, and as many groups are calling for, the State Dept. should not be allowed to participate in this hugely, critical decision.
Where’s the GOP on this one? Completely silent, and focused only on federal support for solar companies. If they were truly concerned with how our government is operating, this would surely be on their agenda. Unfortunately, their main agenda is to crush renewable energy and to support the fossil fuel industry.
Read the NY Times article: