There’s a lot of interesting news happening around Keystone XL, as backstage shenanigans and government double-speak were outed this past week.
Mike DeSouza at Inside Climate News has a story about Evan Vokes, the TransCanada engineer-turned-whistleblower who outed the company for its many, many failings on pipeline safety and workmanship in Canada. DeSouza writes that TransCanada retaliated to Vokes’ coming forward with this information by deliberately trying to smear him as a “disgruntled” former employee and putting his reliability in question.
The smear campaign was evidenced by internal TransCanada emails that Vokes uncovered through a Canadian privacy law. DeSouza writes:
Vokes obtained the latest email in February 2014 following a request he made through Canadian legislation that protects personal information. TransCanada censored large portions of the message before releasing it, but one section of the email mentions what was described as “managing the EV [Evan Vokes] credibility issue.”
“My understanding is that we have been reasonably successful at influencing authorities [portion censored] and pointing out EV is disgruntled, and actually had the responsibility to correct these same matters and did not,” said the email, dated July 26, 2013.
What follows this disclosure is a slew dodging and “no comment” by TransCanada, Canadian and U.S. government officials, and anyone else who might want to avoid scrutiny as part of the scheme to deliberately harm the reputation of a conscientious man who stood up for the public good. Vokes’ complaints, by the way, were validated when Canadian regulators investigated TransCanada’s handling of the issues Vokes raised, and found Vokes was telling the truth about TransCanada’s shoddy standards.
Another example of shoddy work was pointed out by Greg Awtry, publisher of the Scotts Bluff Star Herald in Nebraska.
He took to task the governor of Nebraska, Pete Ricketts (R), for a couple of pretty significant errors in a letter the governor wrote to President Obama, encouraging him to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Trouble for Ricketts is, the errors were about the very same issues that have Nebraskans of every political stripe joining hands to fight KXL. To wit:
“Dear Mr. President,
As you are aware, the Keystone XL pipeline route in Nebraska was revised to bypass the Sandhills and Ogallala Aquifer.”
Whoa, are you kidding me! Gov. Ricketts actually wrote that? If he did, then Ricketts is either, (1) completely naïve on the entire KXL issue, (2) received misinformation and failed to have his staff fact check his letter, or (3) trying to deceive the citizens of Nebraska knowing full well the KXL actually crosses more miles of the Ogallala Aquifer than before TransCanada rerouted the pipeline path a few miles to the east up near Holt County.
Regardless of the motive behind Ricketts’ letter, the truth is our governor was dead wrong is his reference to the aquifer. It is not only embarrassing he could make such an outrageous error; it’s an insult to the citizens of Nebraska. Gov. Ricketts should know better.
What follows that is an epic beatdown of every claim the governor made in his letter to Obama, a spectacular listing of all the harms that could befall Nebraska when KXL inevitably fails, all of the special treatment tar sands oil gets from the government, and a litany of every way Keystone XL is wrong for Nebraska and for America.
If every newspaper publisher in America paid as close attention as Awtry does to the loose handle on truth government leaders hold, this Keystone XL boondoggle would have been laughed out of existence long ago.