In the New York Times today, Representative Raúl M. Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona who serves as co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, fires a warning shot above the White House’s bow. “If the president approves the Keystone XL pipeline,” Grijalva threatens grimly, “it would be a bad end to what could still be a very strong environmental legacy.”
And that — “Environment Good, Keystone Bad” — is about the sum total of his argument. Rather bizarrely, much of the op-ed is spent relitigating the Bush years. He remembers vividly when “George W. Bush was president and big business wrote environmental policy.” He recalls with horror “Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force.” And he harks back to the days when Barack Obama’s election seemed to promise a “change from Mr. Bush’s way of doing business with business.” There’s a lot of harking, actually. Insofar as the op-ed has a clear point at all, it seems to be that under Bush our environmental policy was disastrous, that it is a little better now, but that Obama might ruin all that if he has the temerity to approve a pipeline. Grijalva makes this point eight times in eleven paragraphs.
In the remaining three, he fails to marshal a single solid argument against Keystone XL. We are informed about “lobbying and bad science” but given no good examples of either; we are told that “Keystone is a bad deal for the American taxpayer on the merits” but never allowed any indication as to why; and we are given notice that the Obama “administration’s approach to the pipeline is a throwback to the time when endangered species were defenseless in the face of corporate moneymaking.” But we are never treated to anything that so much as approaches an explanation as to why. One suspects that the author would have enjoyed Occupy Wall Street.
The closest that Grijalva comes to outlining what he means by the project’s being a “visible and sometimes painful reminder of the way things were done under Mr. Bush” is to claim that,
the contractor chosen by the State Department to assess the pipeline’s environmental impacts violated federal conflict-of-interest rules to get the job, and nothing has been done about it. That company, Environmental Resources Management, did work for TransCanada, Keystone’s parent company, in the recent past and told the State Department the exact opposite on disclosure forms that anyone in the world can now read for herself.
Sadly for Grijalva, though, this is flatly untrue — as his own New York Times confirmed yesterday. In a piece titled “No Conflict of Interest Found in Favorable Review of Keystone Pipeline,” Coral Davenport bluntly recorded that “the inspector general’s report concludes that the State Department’s process in selecting ERM followed, and was at times more rigorous, than was prescribed by agency guidance.” Further, Davenport noted, the report
concludes that ERM fully disclosed its prior work history — including its work with TransCanada — and completed all previous work with TransCanada before undertaking the Keystone review.”