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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Billionaire Tom Steyer lays into the CEO of TransCanada Russ Girling about the Keystone XL

Energy Week Ahead: Billionaire Steyer to Raise Heat on Keystone

2013-06-17 04:01:20.0 GMT

by Mark Drajem, Bloomberg, June 17, 2013
How much havoc can one fired-up billionaire inflict on the plans of one of North America’s
biggest oil-pipeline companies?

We may get a hint this week as hedge-fund founder turned climate activist Tom Steyer kicks off a social-media campaign aimed at prodding President Barack Obama into rejecting
TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline. Steyer, who hosted a fundraiser with Obama on April 3, wants to get the Obamamaniacs who campaigned for the president in 2008 and 2012 to train their efforts on convincing him to reject Keystone.
On Thursday, Steyer is scheduled to team up at an event at the National Press Club in Washington with allies in the cause to increase the public pressure on the president to reject the pipeline. Dozens of veterans of Obama’s presidential campaigns have already signed a petition opposing the pipeline. He argues that building the pipeline from Canada’s oil sands to southern U.S. refineries would be a disaster for the climate.
Ahead of the event, Steyer started a public spat with Russ Girling, the chief executive officer of the Calgary-based Keystone builder. TransCanada, North America’s fourth-largest pipeline company, blogged a response to an open letter Steyer wrote to Obama, using the headline “billionaire’s arguments refuted.”
“Mr. Steyer continues to peddle the false dichotomy between fossil fuels and renewable energy in an attempt to stifle a pragmatic, fact-based debate,” TransCanada blogger Matthew John wrote June 7. “Fortunately the majority of Americans, including President Barack Obama, know that a diverse and robust energy mix leads to greater energy security.”
Steyer shot back last week in another open letter, this one to Girling, asking the company to disclose details about its lobbying, including who it hired to advocate for the project and who those lobbyists have met with.
“Given this ongoing lobbying and propaganda campaign, and your confidence in the decision making of the U.S. government, isn’t it important for the public to understand whether you know something the American people don’t?” Steyer wrote. 

All that’s just a prelude of what is to come this week.

June 14, 2013
Dear Russ Girling:

Although my June 4th open letter to President Barack Obama ( was not directed to TransCanada, I am nonetheless grateful for your response because it helps a great deal in framing the threshold question:

Does TransCanada, a foreign oil company that is spending millions on lobbying to make billions from the Keystone XL Pipeline, truly have the best interests of the American people in mind?

In answering this threshold question, let's move beyond the smokescreen that TransCanada and your supporters continue to put up to try to defend the construction of the pipeline project and consider the factual record of what TransCanada has actually committed to:

·      While you have taken issue with the fact that the province of British Columbia opposes your plan for a 2nd tar sands pipeline to the west coast of Canada, major media sources have reported that your application was, in fact, rejected. To take just one example: The New York Times reported that: “A pipeline for exporting oil sands bitumen to Asia-bound tankers was dealt a severe blow on Friday when the province of British Columbia urged a federal review panel to reject the $6 billion plan.” (

·      Despite your repeated assertions that Keystone will bolster U.S. energy independence, TransCanada has testified before Congress that it will not commit the tar sands for U.S. domestic consumption. (Hearing, U.S. House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Energy and Power, December 2, 2001)

·       While you repeatedly assert that the U.S. will benefit economically from Keystone, TransCanada has stated in regulatory filings the pipeline will actually lead to higher U.S. oil prices. "Access to the USGC [U.S. Gulf Coast] via the Keystone XL Pipeline is expected to strengthen Canadian crude oil pricing in [the Midwest] by removing this oversupply. . . . The resultant increase in the price of heavy crude is estimated to provide an increase in annual revenue to the Canadian producing industry in 2013 of US $2 billion to US $3.9 billion."  (Section 3.4.3 of TransCanada’s permit application; highlight added)

·       While you often tout the job creation benefits of the pipeline, the official study that TransCanada itself conducted and provided to the U.S. government concluded that, once the temporary construction has been completed, the project would create only 35 permanent jobs. (Draft Supplemental EIS, Keystone XL,

In light of all of this, does anyone think we can trust a foreign oil company to protect the U.S. public interest?

However, given that your recent response has now opened the door for you to provide factual answers to the American people, I was struck by a comment you made two weeks ago:

“I remain extremely confident that we'll get the green light to build this pipeline." (

These comments were made in the context of the ongoing, massive, multi-million dollar propaganda and lobbying campaign by TransCanada and its foreign supporters, including:  

·       The Canadian government has set aside C$16.5 million advertising dollars to promote Canadian tar sands in 2013, much of which is earmarked for aggressively pushing the Keystone XL project.
·       Alberta Premier Alison Redford has billed taxpayers at least C$100,000 for trips back and forth to Washington and New York, where she has been a tireless promoter of the Keystone tar sands pipeline project.  These expenses included a one-night stay at the luxurious Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington, DC, for which taxpayers were billed $934.86. 
·        The Province of Alberta has committed at least C$651,475 (almost certainly more) to firms lobbying the U.S. on pipeline-related issues between 2009 and 2013.

Given this ongoing lobbying and propaganda campaign, and your confidence in the decision making of the U.S. government, isn’t it important for the public to understand whether you know something the American people don’t?

Here are four questions for you and TransCanada to answer in the spirit of full disclosure to the American people about what TransCanada and TransCanada's supporters are doing to attempt to secure the “green light” to transport dirty tar sands oil across the U.S. for export to foreign countries:

1.     How much money has TransCanada, TransCanada's affiliates, TransCanada's subsidiaries and TransCanada's agents spent on lobbying the U.S. government in support of the Keystone pipeline?
2.     What are the names of all lobbyists, public relations firms, lawyers and other representatives being retained by TransCanada, TransCanada's affiliates, TransCanada's subsidiaries and TransCanada's agents in relation to the Keystone pipeline?
3.     Which U.S. government employees and elected officials have been lobbied in the U.S. by TransCanada, TransCanada's affiliates, TransCanada's subsidiaries and TransCanada's agents?
4.     What information has TransCanada, TransCanada's affiliates, TransCanada's subsidiaries and TransCanada's agents provided to elected officials, government regulators and others?

On June 20th, we are sponsoring an event at 10:00 a.m. at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, at which we will take the facts about Keystone directly to the Americans who re-elected President Obama. I challenge you to release the above information by June 20th so that we can share the facts about your lobbying efforts with the American people.


Tom Steyer

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