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In President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan address, he stated that TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would only receive State Department approval “if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”

As it stands, that means Keystone XL – which if built to full capacity would pipe diluted bitumen, or “dilbit” from the Alberta tar sands down to Port Arthur, TX refineries for shipment to the global export market – may likely receive Obama’s approval.

That’s because Obama’s State Dept. – assigned to make a final decision on KXL because it crosses the international border – contracted its Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Study (SEIS) out to Environmental Resources Management, Inc. (ERM Group).

ERM Group is a dues-paying member of the American Petroleum Institute (API), as is TransCanada.

The SEIS concluded KXL’s “approval or denial” – misleading because its southern half is already 75-percent complete via an Obama March 2012 Executive Order – “is unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development” of the tar sands. Therefore, it will also have little impact on climate change, according to ERM’s SEIS.

It’s important to remember that ERM was chosen on behalf of State by TransCanada itself. Futher, one of the ERM employees tasked to conduct the SEIS, as exposed in a Mother Jones investigation, is a former TransCanada employee.

A DeSmog investigation also reveals that API has spent $22.03 million dollars lobbying at the federal level on Keystone XL and/or tar sands issues since the pipeline was initially proposed in June 2008. Further, some of those oil lobbyists have direct ties to both President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the two men who have the final say on KXL.

API Keystone XL Lobbyists Ties to Obama and Kerry

One of the lobbyists helping in the API Keystone XL lobbying effort was Marty Durbin, the nephew of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL). Sen. Durbin was President Obama’s former U.S. Senate colleague from Illinois before Obama won the presidency in 2008.

Initially hired by API to fend off proposed congressional climate change legislation in 2009, Marty Durbin was named President and CEO of America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) in March 2013, the industry lobbying powerhouse on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) matters.

API hired Ogilvy Government Relations to lobby for KXL in 2012, as well. One of Ogilvy’s key hired guns lobbying on behalf of API and KXL is Moses Mercado.

Mercado served as a key aide to Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, as well as a super-delegate representing Texas for the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He also served as campaign director in New Mexico for U.S. Sec. of State John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

“The waves are being generated by Mercado’s other line of work — as a lobbyist with Ogilvy Government Relations who is registered to represent several dozen big-name clients, including the National Rifle Association, the Carlyle Group, the Blackstone Group, Monsanto, Pfizer Inc., United Health Group, Sempra Energy and Constellation Energy,” a Sept. 2007 Washington Post article explained about Mercado joining the Obama campaign team (emphasis mine).

Obama’s national political director for his 2008 presidential campaign, Matthew Nugen, now also works at Ogilvy. He took the job less than a week after Obama’s Jan. 2009 inauguration.

Lobbying Coupled with a Dose of PR and Astroturf

Above and beyond lobbying, API has also devoted much time, money and effort on pro-Keystone XL public relations. Its most recent ongoing campaign is called Oil Sands Fact Check (OSFC).

As explained by the Houston Chronicle, OSFC was created as a tar sands parallel to Energy in Depth (EID), another industry-created front group to promote fracking:

[OSFC] is borrowing a page from Energy In Depth’s playbook, with regular “issue alerts” to reporters and others, and plans for touting the message via Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To lure in critics as well as supporters, the group has ads that appear on Google when users search for “tar sands” – a synonym often used derisively – and other related terms.

Before OSFC’s creation, API ran an astroturf campaign called Vote 4 Energy run by Edelman Public Relations.

“They’re using deception to talk to Americans about the oil and gas industry,” said Gabe Elsner of the Checks and Balances Project at the time, who auditioned to appear in one of API’s commercials. “These multi-million dollar campaigns are clearly being crafted to give the appearance that it’s ordinary people talking. What we experienced was that it was well scripted and totally set up to be the perfect commercial.”

API also created an astroturf group called Energy Citizens during the climate change legislative battle in 2009.

“The objective of these rallies is to put a human face on the impacts of unsound energy policy and to aim a loud message at those states’ U.S. Senators to avoid the mistakes embodied in the House climate bill and the Obama Administration’s tax increases on our industry,” wrote API head Jack Gerard in a memo obtained by Greenpeace USA explaning the rationale behind the campaign to API members. “We are asking all API members to assist in these…activities. The size of the company does not matter, and every participant adds to the strength of our collective voice.”

Can State Dept./ERM SEIS Be Trusted?

With a history of rubber-stamping ecologically-hazardous projects, it should surprise no one that the southern half of KXL already has dents and poorly-welded metal recently replaced by contractor Michels Corporation. An ominous sign for KXL’s future, to say the least.

Photo Courtesy of BOLD Nebraska

“It’s clear that, devoid of factually-based energy and climate arguments, API needs to spend vast sums on lobbyists and campaign contributions to secure the access it needs to political power,” Tyson Slocum, Director of Public Citizen‘s Energy Program told DeSmog in an interview.

Friends of the Earth-US Senior Campaigner Ross Hammond echoed Slocum in an interview with DeSmog.

“It’s no wonder that API and its members continue to tout the ERM report as ‘proof’ that Keystone will make a minimal contribution to climate change despite the fact that the EPA and top scientists all take the opposite view. The fact that ERM is a paid member of API should have disqualified it from writing the Draft SEIS,” said Hammond.

THE SUNDAY TIMES

by: John Follain and Tony Allen-Mills
From: The Australian
August 13, 2012 12:00AM

DESPITE mounting calls in Washington for a more aggressive US military role in Syria, the CIA has been quietly working along its northern border with Turkey to limit the supplies of weapons and ammunition reaching rebel forces, Syrian opposition officials say.

“Not one bullet enters Syria without US approval,” one official complained in Istanbul. “The Americans want the (rebellion) to continue, but they are not allowing enough supplies in to make the Damascus regime fall.”

Details of the CIA’s policing activities offer a rare insight into the complex struggle for regional advantage that is rapidly developing at the margins of the Syrian civil war. Conducted mostly by clandestine agents from the US, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Iran, the conflict has turned Turkey’s rugged border provinces into a hotbed of arms dealers, spies and would-be fighters.

Over the past 10 months, a Syrian opposition official told The Sunday Times, the CIA has blocked shipments of heavy anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, which rebel units of the Free Syrian Army have long said are vital to their efforts to overthrow the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. At the same time they have approved supplies of AK-47 Kalashnikov rifles, and just over a month ago gave the green light to a shipment of 10,000 Russian-made rocket-propelled grenades.

“The weapons are being carried across the border on donkeys,” the official said.

Since the fall to rebel forces of Azaz, a Syrian town near the Turkish border, guns have begun to arrive by truck.

The weapons are either bought on the black market in Istanbul or supplied by the rebels’ allies in Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

“Qatar sends money and usually says ‘Go and buy what you want’,” the official said.

“The Turks just give the weapons free of charge, especially light anti-tank weapons.”

Yet rebel frustration is mounting at the CIA’s reluctance to allow heavy weaponry across the border for fear that it may eventually be used against America’s allies.

“The RPGs aren’t enough,” the opposition official said. “You have to be close to the tank to make any impact, and often the fighter using it gets killed.”

The CIA’s activities highlight a contradiction in Washington’s approach to Syria. While President Barack Obama’s administration supports the rebel uprising, has called for Assad to step down and is supplying opposition forces with millions of dollars in non-lethal aid, it has shied from a more forcible military intervention.

Suggestions that Washington was deliberately prolonging the conflict while it attempted to identify a friendly successor to Assad were described by one former CIA official as “a little too Machiavellian”.

Bob Grenier, a former director of the CIA counter-terrorism centre, said the CIA’s policing activities along the border were intended to protect the administration from future embarrassment if the rebel groups it supported turned out to be hostile to Israel or the US should they gain power. “It would not be good if it was later established that weapons reached people identified with al-Qa’ida, and we could have done something about it,” he said.

He described the administration’s current policy as “hiding behind the CIA”.

Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, said in Turkey on Saturday that measures to assist the rebels, including the possible imposition of a no-fly zone, were being considered.

“It is one thing to talk about all kinds of potential actions, but you cannot make reasoned decisions without doing intense analysis and operational planning,” she said.

CIA agents have been active along the border, trying to prevent jihadists sympathetic to al-Qa’ida from joining the Syrian fray.

“The CIA vetoes al-Qa’ida and it’s not very keen on the Muslim Brotherhood,” a Syrian opposition official said.

Khaled Khoja, from the opposition Syrian National Council, said American fears of an Islamist takeover were unfounded.

“Islamists in Syria are a very minor group, no more than 2000 soldiers compared with more than 100,000 FSA members,” he said.

“They can be controlled. This won’t be a new Iraq (where US forces found themselves confronted by Islamic insurgents).”

With both the CIA and Israel’s Mossad trying to locate Syria’s stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and Iranian agents keeping a close eye on Western intervention, southern Turkey is beginning to resemble a desert version of Cold War Berlin – teeming with spies engaged in a largely secret battle.

The Occupy Movement will grow with the deterioration of the USA economy, since the USA’s negative decline impacts the majority of Americans, and this will lead to a lasting change that will alter the world forever.  It may not be called The Occupy Movement as time goes on, since it has taken many shapes over the years, but the majority of American’s will continue to struggle to maintain a level of humanity causing greater rifts in the USA system of doing business.  For what happens to housing prices when less and less people can afford the prices for the many of homes that stand vacant and instead people just Occupy those homes?  This doesn’t mean revolution, as in a change of government, but it does mean that certain ways of doing business will have to change. This doesn’t mean that the wealthy will cease to exist or that they will not use that wealth to try to corner the market and become even more wealthy, but it does mean that much of that won’t matter when the infrastructure of the country crumbles.  For the great mistake of all Empires is that the wealthy become so glutenous that they forget that everyone, rich and poor, depend on the same infrastructure for survival.  And this change isn’t bad it’s just hard for many suffer.  What I hope to see from this change is for American’s to remember there roots of a hard working inventive people who can use our diversity as a strength to build rather than destroy.  And The Occupy Movement is just part of a far bigger change that is taking the world by storm over the last couple of years being seen in other movements like that of Austerity protests in Europe with price hikes, The Arab Spring, the continued struggles of African nations against governmental corruption and resource raiding by foreign interests, Palestine’s struggle for self determination,Turks striving for open urban spaces and anti religious dogma as political policy, Brazilians demanding greater social investment rather then prices hikes on basic services, and the list goes on and on.  With greater change comes greater oppression, sometimes by creating false movements to mislead, but no matter how great the oppression the majority always win over time.

There are conspiracies and there are facts. Its time we face the facts of what our government is doing in our name and with our money.

 

This is the beginning of a series that I will be posting of current news photos that I have collected that struck me as powerful messages of the changing world around us.  I hope you find them to be the same…….

This article was written in the summer 2010 edition of Adbusters and it does a good job of summing up a point of political discussion that I have been having with people over the past several years about USA militarism destroying not only others way of life but also our way of life here at home.