Archive | November, 2015

As Internal Docs Show Major Overreach, Why Is FBI Spying on Opponents of Keystone XL Pipeline?

8 Nov

MAY 13, 2015 –

A new report confirms for the first time that the FBIspied on activists in Texas who tried to stop the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Documents from the FBI reveal it failed to get approval before it cultivated informants and opened its investigation, which was run from its Houston field office. The files document “substantial non-compliance” with Department of Justice rules. The Tar Sands Blockade mentioned in that report was one of the main groups targeted by the FBI. Agents in Houston office also told TransCanada they would share “pertinent intelligence regarding any threats” to the company in advance of protests. We are joined by Adam Federman, contributing editor to Earth Island Journal and co-author of the new investigation published by The Guardian, “Revealed: FBI violated its own rules while spying on Keystone XL opponents.” In February, he also revealed how the FBI has recently pursued environmental activists in Texas, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Washington and Idaho for “little more than taking photographs of oil and gas industry installations.”


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: A new report confirms for the first time that the FBI spied on activists in Texas who tried to stop the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The report is based on FBI documents obtained by The Guardian and the Earth Island Journal. The documents also reveal that the FBI failed to get approval before it cultivated informants and opened its investigation, which was run from its Houston field office. The files document, quote, “substantial non-compliance” with Department of Justice rules. Much of the FBI’s surveillance took place between November of 2012 and June 2014.

AMY GOODMAN: The Tar Sands Blockade mentioned in the report was one of the main groups targeted by the FBI. Agents in Houston also told TransCanada they would share, quote, “pertinent intelligence regarding any threats” to the company in advance of protests.

Republished from


Keystone XL pipeline rejection sends a chill over Canada’s energy industry

8 Nov

CALGARY — The Globe and Mail-Nov.6.2015

The rejection of TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline project puts new pressure on Canada’s energy industry to figure out how to ship growing oil sands production from the landlocked west to global markets.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s categorical “no” to the 830,000-barrel-a-day project will not immediately shut down new oil sands projects but could have a cooling effect on growth in the industry, already stung by more than a year of sharply lower oil prices.

Hal Kvisle – the man who conceived the Keystone XL pipeline when he was TransCanada’s chief executive officer – called Friday “a sad day.”

“This is very difficult for the Canadian oil and gas industry,” Mr. Kvisle, who headed TransCanada from 2001 to 2010, said in an interview.

“And access to market is the single biggest problem we face. In many ways, it is even bigger than $45 oil. Forty-five-dollar oil will come and go as global supply and demand sorts itself out. But if Western Canada can’t get access to markets, and we persist with things like dangerous rail transportation, it is just bad.”

Even before the White House made its announcement Friday, there had been fallout because of limited transport capacity for future oil sands production. Last month, Royal Dutch Shell PLC halted construction on its massive steam-driven project, Carmon Creek, blaming both the collapse in oil prices and the lack of pipeline capacity.

At a time when the energy sector is rife with job losses, current TransCanada CEO Russ Girling said the Keystone XL project would have put 2,200 Canadians to work almost overnight. Following the rejection of the project, TransCanada said it would review its options, which include filing a new application for a presidential permit for a cross-border pipeline.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said the Keystone XL decision emphasizes why Canada needs to push hard for domestic pipelines – particularly those likely to succeed. She spoke directly to TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline project, which would bring crude oil from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Eastern Canada, and Kinder Morgan Canada’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion from just east of Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C.

She pressed the need for getting oil to tidewater with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Friday morning.

“We need to really focus and have some very careful discussions about how we can work collaboratively to ensure that we get energy infrastructure and pipelines to tidewater. Bottom line,” she said.

Gaétan Caron, the former head of Canada’s National Energy Board and an executive fellow at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy, characterized the U.S. decision Friday as “a low point in North American energy security.”

Mr. Caron said Keystone XL is one of four key pipeline projects to get Canadian oil to refineries and global markets where the crude fetches a higher price than it does in land-locked North America. The other key projects, he said, are Energy East, the Trans Mountain expansion and Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway project to the B.C. Pacific Coast.

“If you stopped all four, then what you’re left with is the upgrade of existing systems and – heaven forbid – a significant increase again in the movement of oil by rail. Nobody yet has found a way to stop the movement of oil by rail,” Mr. Caron said.

While oil prices were high, rail was an increasingly used as a fallback method for shipping crude. However, oil prices below $50 (U.S.) a barrel has made rail a less economical means of transportation.

At Cenovus Energy Inc., spokesman Reg Curren said: “We haven’t put all of our eggs in one basket when it comes to transporting our oil. We’re building a portfolio of market options for our production.”

The oil sands producer will get its product to market by using shipping capacity on the existing Trans Mountain system and Enbridge’s Flanagan South pipeline in the U.S., as well as its 70,000-barrel-a-day crude oil transloading terminal at Bruderheim, northeast of Edmonton. Still, Cenovus is counting on more pipeline capacity coming on line.

“We have made commitments to both Energy East and Trans Mountain,” Mr. Curren said.

Although downtown Calgary has for months expected a rejection of the project, Friday’s news from the White House was still a major blow.

“Clearly, we’re disappointed in today’s decision,” said Steve Williams, CEO of Suncor Energy Inc., one of Canada’s largest oil companies.

“Keystone XL is important infrastructure not only for producers in the U.S. Bakken and Canada as it would provide expanded connectivity to the Gulf Coast, but also for U.S. refiners as it would provide security of supply from a long-time energy provider and trading partner.”

Republished from The Globe and Mail:

Obama Rejects Keystone XL Pipeline

8 Nov


President says transporting crude oil from Canada won’t help the economy, lower gas prices, or increase the United States’ energy security

In a huge win for environmentalists, President Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline proposal today.

Had transport company TransCanada’s proposal been approved, the pipeline would have transected six states, carrying crude oil 1,700 miles from Canada’s Alberta tar stands to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

President Obama at his deskOfficial White House Photo by Pete SouzaThe President said that the pipeline was neither be a silver bullet for the economy, nor the express lane to climate disaster. 

In a White House press briefing this morning, Obama said that the pipeline “would not serve the national interest of the United States.” The President cited three main reasons for rejecting the project — it wasn’t going to help the economy in any meaningful way, it wouldn’t lower gas prices for Americans, and it wouldn’t increase the country’s energy security.

“Now, for years, the Keystone Pipeline has occupied what I, frankly, consider an overinflated role in our political discourse,” he said. “It became a symbol too often used as a campaign cudgel by both parties rather than a serious policy matter. And all of this obscured the fact that this pipeline would neither be a silver bullet for the economy, as was promised by some, nor the express lane to climate disaster proclaimed by others.”

Echoing what many pipeline opponents have been saying, and acknowledging the impact the project would have had on climate change, he added: “Ultimately, if we’re going to prevent large parts of this Earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them and release more dangerous pollution into the sky.”

The announcement was major victory for environmental advocates, who had been campaigning against the project for years based on its climate impact as well as the precedent it would set for American energy policy.

“This is a big win,” May Boeve, executive director of, said in a statement. “President Obama’s decision to reject Keystone XL because of its impact on the climate is nothing short of historic — and sets an important precedent that should send shockwaves through the fossil fuel industry.” Boeve said Obama’s decision

affirmed “the power of social movements” to change politics. “We’re looking to build on this victory, and show that if it’s wrong to build Keystone XL because of its impact on our climate, it’s wrong to build any new fossil fuel infrastructure, period,” she said

The announcement comes of the heels of TransCanada’s request earlier this week that the State Department delay review of its US permit application for the pipeline. Many environmentalists saw this request, which the State Department denied, as an attempt to push the review to after the November 2016 election, in the hopes that the political climate might then be more favorable.

The decision to reject the pipeline comes as world leaders prepare to gather in Paris later this month for international climate negotiations.

Republished from the Earth Island Journal: