February 21, 2014

Keystone XL Fight Pointless, Says ‘Green’ Pundit at Fossil Fuel-Funded Think Tank

RobertSiegelYesterday, NPR’s Robert Siegel invited Paul Bledsoe — whom he introduced only as a former climate change advisor to the Clinton administration — to discuss why the Obama administration should go ahead and approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Bledsoe has appeared across the media in recent days promoting a theory that the Keystone XL will have no impact on carbon emissions and that activists are wasting their time in opposing the project. He claims that he believes in strong action on climate change, but that “Keystone is hardly the key to climate protection.”

One problem with Bledsoe’s supposed green bonafides? He works at a pro-Keystone XL think tank funded in part by TransCanada’s trade association.

Bledsoe works at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a think tank that has garnered the nickname “Bipartisan Lobbying Center” for its close ties with Washington’s corporate influence peddling industry. Though media outlets are taking Bledsoe’s recent media blitz as something novel, the BPC has spent over a year claiming that the Keystone XL pipeline is not that big of a deal and should be approved.

As Republic Report’s David Halperin noted, the BPC is heavily funded by oil and gas companies, including ExxonMobil, Entergy, Chevron, ConocoPhilips, and Shell Oil. The American Gas Association, a trade group that counts TransCanada as a member, also funds the BPC. Notably, many oil companies have staked a claim on tar sands development, and firms such as Shell have undertaken $10 billion at their gulf coast refinery in upgrades in preparation for processing heavy tar sands oil, which can only feasibly be transported by the Keystone XL.

The contention from Bledsoe and others, including the State Department and TransCanada’s former contractor, ERM, that the Keystone XL will not impact tar sands development, has been contradicted by numerous reports and independent financial analysis.