Wednesday, July 13, 2011

In a Cable Released by WikiLeaks, State Department Officials Encourage Canada to Spin News Coverage of Tar Sands Pipeline

In a Cable Released by WikiLeaks, State Department Officials Encourage Canada to Spin News Coverage of Tar Sands Pipeline: "

The State Department says it’s objectively reviewing the proposed Keystone Pipeline. This $13 billion pipeline expansion would bring 500,000 barrels of the dirtiest, most energy-intensive oil from Alberta’s tar sands into the U.S. each day.

But a 2009 diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks puts that objectivity into question: The LA Times wrote about the leak today:

The cable, obtained by WikiLeaks, describes the State Department’s then-energy envoy, David Goldwyn, as having “alleviated” Canadian officials’ concerns about getting their crude into the U.S. It also said he had instructed them in improving “oil sands messaging,” including “increasing visibility and accessibility of more positive news stories.”

Goldwyn now works on Canadian oil sands issues at Sutherland, a Washington lobbying firm, and recently testified before Congress in favor of building the 36-inch underground pipeline, Keystone XL.

As if Koch Industries, the $100 billion oil giant that has funded climate-change denial groups and spent tens of millions of dollars on media campaigns and lobbying efforts against clean energy, needs any help in spinning coverage. Koch Industries currently ships around 250,000 barrels of tar-sands oil per day to the U.S., and stands to gain handsomely from the pipeline if built.

Environmentalists and industry experts say the cable is among several examples from unguarded moments and public documents that signal the administration’s willingness to push ahead with the controversial pipeline, even as its agencies conduct environmental and economic reviews.

In June, the two environmental reviews conducted by the State Department were questioned by the Environmental Protection Agency, which had “concerns” the assessments did not adequately study the impact of pipeline leaks, groundwater impacts, and greenhouse gas emissions – in other words, all the major factors that would make shipping oil from Alberta’s tar sands even more environmentally disastrous than it already is.

The State Department says it will provide a more comprehensive review of those concerns in its final environmental assessment. No word yet on whether it will include any recommendations for the Canadian government on positive media coverage.

– Stephen Lacey

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