If you have something to tell the State Department, better hurry. The cutoff is October 9th.
State Department, 10/7/11:
MR. HAMMER: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for coming. We have today Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones, who is the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, to talk to you and brief you on the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY JONES:…
First of all, I want to let you know that the Department of State is committed to an impartial, rigorous, transparent, and thorough process for the National Interest Determination to determine whether or not this pipeline proposed by Keystone XL is in the national interest.
QUESTION: Madam Assistant Secretary, I’m with Al Jazeera English. We wanted to know what your opinion is on the fact that there’s been much criticism about these e-mails that were released by an NGO that suggest that not only one of the lobbyists worked for Secretary Clinton, but that there’s also a relationship or a favoritism towards TransCanada, and that was stated in the e-mails. We wanted to know your response to that.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY JONES: Well, we are running an objective process, and we have met with interested parties from all the different perspectives, including the applicant, environmental groups, yesterday I personally met with a number of faith-based groups, representatives of Native American groups as well as Native American tribes themselves, people from the First Nations in Canada. I also met with a number of student activists. So in the course of this, we have been dealing with many different perspectives, and this is what we are doing. We want to hear from every perspective, and we are on listening mode, and there has been impartiality.
QUESTION: Do you think there’s a conflict of interest that the lobbyist worked for Secretary Clinton, (inaudible)?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY JONES: Past relationships are not of importance.
QUESTION: It’s (inaudible) with Dow Jones. To kind of follow up on Gary’s question a little bit, the environmental impact statement found that there were no significant impacts from the pipeline. So can you tell us what other qualities it is about the pipeline that might convince the Department not to approve it?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY JONES: Well, what the environmental impact statement said was that there were no significant impacts – suggested there were no significant impacts, but it did list some areas where there may be impacts. It did mention issues related to cultural issues. It did mention a particular species of beetle which is a threatened species where there had to be a mitigation plan. It did touch on the issue that – regarding spills. That is still out there. You can’t really address that specifically because that has to do with the nature of the spill.
For “nature of the spill,” how about “catastrophic,” Madame Functionary?
Meanwhile, it’s notable that only Al Jazeera asked a challenging question. Even The Guardian and MoJo didn’t really get much of a nip out of Jones’ hide, although Goldenberger did identify Cardno Entrix as the firm to whom State has outsourced the management of meetings to discuss the pipeline. Media Matters notes: “The State Department’s Environmental Impact Statement was prepared with the help of Cardno ENTRIX, a consulting firm that works for TransCanada.”
No conflict of interest?