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“State Department Keystone XL Study Done by Oil Industry-Connected Firms with Big Tobacco, Fracking Ties”

March 15, 2013
Photo Credit: ShutterStock | Leonid Ikan

Photo Credit: ShutterStock | Leonid Ikan

Philadelphia Connection: Katie McGinty

To begin at the end of this explosive expose, here is the story of Katie McGinty. From 2003 – 2008, McGinty served as head of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, helping to usher in the fracking industry which is now having its way with Pennsylvania.  We haven’t heard a peep from McGinty objecting to the black water, methane migration, human illnesses, animal illnesses and deaths, blowouts, and other impacts Pennsylvanians are now experiencing as fracking dominates many rural counties.

To the contrary, McGinty’s industry connections have thickened. She is managing director of Weston Solutions, a firm that is part of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, according to Public Accountability in “Fracking and the Revolving Door in Pennsylvania,” February 2013.

And this week, in “State Department Keystone XL Study Done by Oil Industry-Connected Firm with Big Tobacco, Fracking Ties,” Steve Horn identifies the rest of her current ties:

Named as a member of the industry-stacked Obama DOE fracking subcommittee in May 2011, McGinty now works as an Operating Partner alongside Rendell at Element Partners, a Philadelphia, PA-based firm that has capital investments in several firms operating in Pennsylvania’s portion of the Marcellus Shale. McGinty also serves on the Board of Directors of NRG Energy, an electricity-generating utilities corporation that owns natural gas-fired power plants around the U.S.

So, she’s well set to benefit from all the fracking that’s devastating Pennsylvania and beyond right now, and she’s sure not living up to the label “environmentalist” which Wikipedia gives her, but what’s she got to do with this tar sands study?

Turns out that McGinty’s husband, Karl Hausker, happens to be vice president of ICF Consulting, one of the firms the State Department contracted to study the environmental impacts of the Keystone XL Pipeline. The State study concluded on March 1st that laying down the Keystone XL pipeline is environmentally sound, despite its massive carbon footprint and other well-documented environmental impacts.

When the State Department announced this scientifically unfounded conclusion, it failed to mention that the study was contracted out to three firms with industry ties, including ICF, according to InsideClimate News.

Investigative desmogblog reporter Steve Horn puts the final jigsaw puzzle piece together this way:

ICF Consulting is a thread tying the forthcoming fracking decision in New York by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo to the Obama State Department decision on the Keystone XL. Though ICF doesn’t list its clients on its website, its vice president Karl Hausker is the husband of Kathleen (“Katie”) McGinty, one of the members of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel.

Yes, read that again. We’ve got a fracking fan, Katie McGlinty, now working in Philadelphia alongside the pro-fracking former governor Rendell, at a firm with investments in PA Marcellus Shale drilling; she’s on the board of NRG, which owns gas-fired power plants; she’s on the NY DEC Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel, she’s managing director of a Marcellus Shale Coalition member firm, and her husband is vice president of one of the firms that just concluded the KXL is environmentally sound. 

The extreme energy extraction revolving door McGinty is spinning in seems to have a flashing neon “drill baby drill” sign on top of it.

Oh, and one more tidbit? That same husband of hers, Karl Hausker, used to work for the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, which takes a pro-fracking line and continues to accept gas industry funding. A few years back,  in 2007, a PA ethics panel ruled that cabinet secretaries must completely divorce themselves from grants to entities where their spouses work after McGinty’s DEP administration gave $2.8 million in grants to the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, where Hausker was working. 

All of this would be merely amusing if it weren’t for the serious harms fracking is doing.  Frank Finan hasn’t been able to eat solid food since receiving a chemical burn to his throat from inhaling at a flare in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, on January 23rd 2013. On December 7th, 2012 an 80 year old man in Susquehanna County, PA had a nosebleed, apparently caused by a shale gas dehydrator close to his home, so severe that he had to go to the hospital in an ambulance to stop the bleeding. A Dimock resident passed out from inhaling fumes from his family’s contaminated water. And the List of the Harmed is just now topping 900. The situation is desperate for many who are having their lives turned upside down, while others profit and turn a blind eye.

So, what’s in a study? Whether it’s the now thoroughly debunked, infamously corrupted 2004 EPA study of coalbed methane which paved the way for the 2005 Halliburton Loophole that enabled the real fracking frenzy to take off in the Marcellus; or this new State Department Keystone XL “study” with industry ties, the devil’s in the details. Extreme energy extraction requires extreme pro-industry bias in the “studies” our government uses to facilitate climate-destroying fossil fuel development.

Please read the entire piece, reposted courtesy of Steve Horn, revealing industry ties with three firms — ICF, ERM, and EnSys Energy — hired to produce the conclusion the State Department wanted:

State Department Keystone XL Study Done by Oil Industry-Connected Firms with Big Tobacco, Fracking Ties

On March 1, the U.S. State Department published its long-awaited Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the TransCanada Keystone XL (KXL) tar sands pipeline.

The KXL is slated to bring tar sands crude – also known as diluted bitumen or “dilbit”– from Alberta, Canada to Port Arthur, TX. From Port Arthur, it will be refined and exported to the global market.

Flying in the face of the slew of scientific studies both on the harms of burning tar sands and on the KXL itself, State determined that laying down the pipeline is environmentally sound.

Unmentioned by State: the study was contracted out to firms with tar sands extraction clientele, as revealed by InsideClimate News.

“EnSys Energy has worked with ExxonMobil, BP and Koch Industries, which own oil sands production facilities and refineries in the Midwest that process heavy Canadian crude oil. Imperial Oil, one of Canada’s largest oil sands producers, is a subsidiary of Exxon,” InsideClimate News explained. “ICF International works with pipeline and oil companies but doesn’t list specific clients on its website.”

Writing for Grist, Brad Johnson also revealed the name of a third contractor – Environmental Resources Management (ERM) Group – which TransCanada hired on behalf of the State Department to do the EIS.

“(ERM) was paid an undisclosed amount under contract to TransCanada to write the statement, which is now an official government document,” Johnson explained. “The statement estimates, and then dismisses, the pipeline’s massive carbon footprint and other environmental impacts, because, it asserts, the mining and burning of the tar sands is unstoppable.”

ERM, a probe into the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) Tobacco Archives reveals, has deep historical ties to Big Tobacco. Further, a key employee at ICF International – via familial ties – is tied to the future of whether hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for shale oil and gas becomes a reality in New York’s portion of the Marcellus Shale.

TransCanada Utilizes Tobacco Playbook in Hiring ERM Group

ERM Group – headquarted in the City of London – a square mile sub-section of London infamous for its role in serving as a tax shelter for multinational corporations– has aided the tobacco industry in pushing the “Tobacco Playbook.”

Many fossil fuel industry public relations flacks learned the tactics of mass manipulation by reading the “tobacco playbook,” meticulously documented in Naomi Oreskes’ and Erik Conway’s classic book, “Merchants of Doubt.”

Doubt is our product,” a tobacco industry document once laid out the playbook, “since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the minds of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.”

ERM has done studies on behalf of both R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris, penning a report titled “Fundamentals of Environmental Management” for the latter.

It was also a former member of the American Tort Reform Association, a group that fights to limit the tort law rights of citizens to sue for damages inflicted upon them by corporations and featured in the documentary film, “Hot Coffee.”

ERM: In-Service to Big Oil, like Big Tobacco

In the 2000 version of its website, ERM referred to climate change advocates as having an “agenda.”

“[T]he gloabl (sic) climate change agenda has very specific implications for the oil and gas industry, and factoring CO2 emissions into operations is a key concern,”read ERM’s website at the time.

The firm has also boasted of doing its studies in service to the oil and gas industry’s bottom lines.

“ERM works around the world with the private sector assessing how their business is likely to be impacted by environmental and social issues, new regulations, consumer concerns, and supply chain issues and help companies develop appropriate policies and management systems to manage these business risks,” its website proclaimed in 2000.

This all sits, of course, in juxtaposition to the needs of the decaying ecosystem and increasingly severe and horrifying climate crisis.

The ICF/New York Fracking Decision Connection

ICF Consulting is a thread tying the forthcoming fracking decision in New York by Democratic Party Gov. Andrew Cuomo to the Obama State Department decision on the Keystone XL.

Though ICF doesn’t list its clients on its website, its vice president Karl Hausker is the husband of Kathleen (“Katie”) McGinty, one of the members of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel.

McGinty formerly served as Vice President Al Gore’s top climate aide under the Clinton Administration, segueing from that position into one as chair of the Clinton Council on Environmental Quality from 1993-1998. From 2003-2008, she served as head of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection under Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell, helping usher in the state’s ongoing fracking boom.

Named as a member of the industry-stacked Obama DOE fracking subcommittee in May 2011, McGinty now works as an Operating Partner alongside Rendell at Element Partners, a Philadelphia, PA-based firm that has capital investments in several firms operating in Pennsylvania’s portion of the Marcellus Shale. McGinty also serves on the Board of Directors of NRG Energy, an electricity-generating utilities corporation that owns natural gas-fired power plants around the U.S.

Tying it all together, Ernest Moniz is leaving his position on ICF’s Board and his professorship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he was a major “frackademic,” to serve as head of the Obama DOE.

In chess, moves of this sort are known as “check” and “checkmate.”

The weeks and months ahead will demonstrate if the chess match is over with regards to the destiny of the Keystone XL pipeline and fracking in the Empire State.

 

2 Comments
  1. March 15, 2013 3:35 am

    I remember watching her as I testified before the DOE fracking subcommittee. She came across as the consummate inside player who wants to present a public face as an environmental steward. I had no information at the time to confirm my hunch, but this article confirms the intuitive sense I had of her that day,

  2. J. Jonik permalink
    March 15, 2013 12:57 pm

    NB:   “Big Tobacco” is the cigarette industry’s misinforming term for itself..making everyone think, wrongly, that the products are just some natural plant.  That overlooks that tobacco is the fifth most pesticide-intensive crop.  And there’s the oil connection.  Many of the unfortunately-ignored pesticide makers are pharmaceutical firms (Bayer, Rhone Poulenc, Abbott, etc) but others are in petrochemicals and chlorine. They are likes of Dow and Dupont, for starters…and Philly’s own FMC Corp.   I don’t know how they may have XL Pipeline interests…but maybe overlapping investments or something are involved.   That is, I don’t know if XL oil will be used for pesticides.      One might call the industry “Big Pesticide Pegs”.   Inflammatory, but on target.               – John Jonik

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