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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Kevin Grandia: Jeff Berman, 'Pivotal' Obama Campaigner Lobbied White House on Keystone XL Pipeline Project

by Kevin Grandia, Center for Democracy in Government, September 13, 2012
In 2010, Jeff Berman, a prominent member of the 2008 Obama election team and the Democratic National Committee, was listed in the US lobbyist registry as working on behalf of the Transcanada Pipeline, the company behind the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline project.
The firm Brian Cave LLP, where Berman works in the Public Policy and Government Affairs group, was paid $240,000 for Berman to "monitor climate change legislation and presidential permit process for TransCanada Keystone." Berman is listed as the lobbyist working on this piece of work and has him representing the views of Transcanada to the Executive Office of the President, State Department, House of Representatives and US Senate.  
The Keystone pipeline project has been a political hot potato for US President Obama, with theprogressive community and many of his supporters publicly opposing the pipeline that would greatly increase the import to the US of unrefined tar sand oil from Canada. 
The controversy around the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline came to a head in August 2011 last year when over a thousand protesters were arrested out front of the White House.
According to his official bio, Berman served in 2008 as the National Delegate Director for the Obama presidential campaign and is "an active member of the Democratic National Committee, and served on the Democratic Change Commission, which was established to improve national Democratic Party rules following the 2008 presidential election."
In 2008 Politico article, Berman is described as "pivotal to Obama's success" and the Obama campaign's "unsung hero."
The Keystone XL pipeline project was postponed in early 2012 when President Obama denied the permit for the XL construction to proceed stating that further assesment of the pipeline's impacts were required. 
In February, 2012 the environmental group Friends of the Earth sued the State Department citing campaign connections (including Berman) as possibly biasing the final decision on the Keystone project.

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