Skip to main content

The climate change site, DeSmogBlog has found that Environmental Resources Management, the consulting firm behind the Keystone XL Pipeline environmental impact assessment, has been at the center of controversial pipeline projects in the past. 

Activists working against the 2002 planned construction of British Petroleum's Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline in Turkey, singled out Environmental Resources Management (ERM) for what they saw as ERM "grooming" the BP pipeline for construction. Like the Keystone XL pipeline assessment, ERM's assessment of the Turkish pipeline was seen as flawed and drafted in a way that gave all but the green light for the pipeline to be constructed.

Environmental and human rights group London Rising Tide went as far as occupying ERM's offices in London, handing out pamphlets to employees stating that:


Your employer [ERM] plays a crucial role if low-key, in grooming BP's Baku Ceyhan pipeline for construction.

In recent days, similar concerns have been raised after the website InsideClimate News revealed that: 


The State Department's recent conclusion that the Keystone XL pipeline "is unlikely to have a substantial impact" on the rate of Canada's oil sands development was based on analysis provided by two consulting firms with ties to oil and pipeline companies that could benefit from the proposed project.

Researcher Brad Johnson writing on Grist then made the link to Environmental Resources Management, finding that,


The “sustainability consultancy” Environmental Resources Management (ERM) was paid an undisclosed amount under contract to TransCanada to write the statement, which is now an official government document.

The construction and operation of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline has impacted the livelihoods of local fishermen, as seen in this video:


Originally posted to KGrandia on Wed Mar 13, 2013 at 03:33 PM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots and Climate Change SOS.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  This should disqualify the analysis received by (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MartyM, Meteor Blades, Kombema

    the State Department:  

    (The report) was based on analysis provided by two consulting firms with ties to oil and pipeline companies that could benefit from the proposed project.

    "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

    by elwior on Wed Mar 13, 2013 at 03:42:26 PM PDT

    •  Conflict of interest anyone? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MartyM, Kombema

      "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

      by elwior on Wed Mar 13, 2013 at 03:43:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not unlike the Niger Delta oil operations screwing (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        over the poor locals. Turkey was a grab slightly more brazen than that, and now the State Dept. fraudulent report is even more so. They really do think we're powerless idiots. They may be right about half of that, nevertheless.

        "Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

        by Kombema on Wed Mar 13, 2013 at 07:36:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Of course, ERM made incorrect assumptions (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The whole climate impact section assumes that the same amount of tar sands will get shipped out even if the pipeline is not built.

      Hello - how about doing some real research:

      "Unless we get increased [market] access, like with Keystone XL, we're going to be stuck," said Ralph Glass, an economist and vice-president at AJM Petroleum Consultants in Calgary. [The Globe and Mail, 6/8/11]

      "Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist."

      by oregonj on Wed Mar 13, 2013 at 05:46:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ah -- so that's how it works? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Consultant "A" with "ties" to the petroleum industry makes a statement you disagree with and it's clearly a problem.

        Meanwhile, consultant "B" with "ties" to the petroleum industry (hell, it's in their name) makes a statement with which you agree and it's gospel worthy of research.

        Got it.

        I have an alternate suggestion: why don't we stop the lazy guilt by association practice of smearing consultants and attorneys who derive part of their practice revenues from unpopular clients and instead let their work stand or fall on its own merits?

        I see this time and again in Daily Kos diaries. Well, guess what? Sometimes the leading experts (or at least highly-qualified ones) on certain topics, including individuals and firms who have the diverse, sophisticated technical and project management resources to do complex analyses such these projects deserve, have picked up part of that expertise by working for the industry in question.

        I'll give you an example: one of the thorniest problems scientists, engineers, and regulators working in the contaminated site remediation industry have to deal with is the occurrence of dense, non-aqueous phase liquids, or DNAPLs, at a contaminated site. These are liquids that are only sparing soluble in water, yet have a higher specific gravity than water, so they sink through the soil surface, through the unsaturated zone, eventually through the water table, and through saturated aquifers until they reach a low-permeability confining layer, where they may stop (at least for awhile) and build up, serving as a long-term source area for dissolved-phase contamination (for that limited fraction that is able to dissolve into groundwater and migrate away).

        Back in the mid-1980s, several industries (those dirty, nasty things) realized two things:

        1. They were on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars of cleanup liabilities at dozens or hundreds of sites due to sloppy historical waste management practices (some of which was condoned or even encouraged at the time by regulatory agencies); and
        2. We clearly lacked the scientific understanding of how these substances occur, migrate, and what their eventual fate was to make informed, effective decisions about how to assess these problems and clean them up (not a situation that makes one willing spend, well, tens to hundreds of millions of dollars that needed to be spent to address real and significant contamination problems that affect people and wildlife).

        So they got together (colluded, if you prefer) and decided to collectively fund research into the matter. They brought a group of university researchers together, formed what eventually was called the University Consortium, and funded cutting-edge research on which scientists the world over rely (including EPA and its counterparts in states and other nations).

        These researchers partnered with funding industries and their consultants, and moved the science on DNAPLs ahead significantly. it would have taken many decades longer to make that much progress if industry had not been motivated by their liabilities to do it.

        Who are these industries? Well, over time their membership has evolved, but this is a blurb from a 1997 website of their work:

        Sponsors of the program currently include The Boeing Company, Ciba Geigy Corporation, General Electric Company, Eastman Kodak Corporation, Motorola, Inc., PPG Industries, Inc., and United Technologies Corporation. These corporate sponsors provide $150,000 ($US) annually for the duration of their sponsorship. Beginning in 1996, three of the sponsors arranged to re-direct their annual sponsorship fee to the establishment of research chairs with a solvent-related focus at two of the principal institutions. Dr. David McWhorter, professor in the Department of Chemical and Bioresource Engineering at CSU, received a three-year funding commitment from the Boeing Company to act as one of three research chairs. Dr. John Cherry, Chair of Contaminant Hydrogeology in the Department of Earth Sciences (UW), and Dr. Robert Gillham, Chair of Groundwater Remediation in the Department of Earth Sciences (UW), were also appointed as chairs, funded by General Electric Company and Motorola, Inc., respectively.
        A bunch of bad actors, eh?  Dirty rotten industry. Can't trust 'em.

        Except the university researchers and environmental consultants they funded comprise the world's leading experts on this topic. If you're analyzing or trying to solve a problem involving DNAPLs, you want these folks, or the people who have learned from them, on your team.

        But the Daily Kos purity test of smearing anyone who has worked for part of their career for dirty industry won't stand for it.

        Well, that's lazy and unproductive, in my opinion.  Again I urge everyone looking at matters such as this: judge the products (the reports and analyses) on their merits or faults. Don't smear consultants, attorneys, or other experts simply because they work with the industries involved. In some ways, that can be an advantage.

        Many firms -- especially large, diverse ones like ERM -- have a broad range of clients ranging from industry to cities and counties, to federal government departments, to federal and state environmental regulatory agencies. They're not stupid enough to prostitute themselves for one client such that it would disqualify them from working for others.

        Now, smaller, niche consultants may be another matter. And I don't mean to impugn them; just to note that they may be more dependent on one industry than larger firms.

        Disclaimer: I have worked as an environmental consultant for 30 years. Although I do not now nor have I ever worked for ERM, I know them as a responsible competitor. They have a different business model than their peer competitors due to an almost franchise-like ownership model (if that's still in place) but they generally do good work. In a way, it's actually in my business interest to see them impugned, since I occasionally compete with them on project opportunities. But I won't. And -- lacking clear evidence -- I don't think you should either.

  •  The analysis is an official government document? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The one that Trans-Canada paid to have produced?
    Why have government at all? Or elections.

    For Christ's sake, let's help more of our frightened people get through this thing, whatever it is - Kurt Vonnegut on our "faithless custodians of capital"

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Wed Mar 13, 2013 at 05:10:54 PM PDT

  •  Kerry should ask IG to investigate this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, Willinois

    The State Dept Inspector General needs to look into why these self-interested parties were allowed to write the "analysis".  Who chose them, why were they chosen, what criteria were used to choose them, etc......  

    "Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist."

    by oregonj on Wed Mar 13, 2013 at 05:37:38 PM PDT

  •  If you are commenting (0+ / 0-)

    on the Keystone XL EIS, you should probably say more than "ERM are a bunch of crooks."  If they are bent, you should be able to find errors in their work to point out.

    Orly, it isn't evidence just because you downloaded it from the internet.

    by 6412093 on Wed Mar 13, 2013 at 09:12:15 PM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site