Author Page | Media Matters for America

Emilee Pierce

Author ››› Emilee Pierce
  • Keystone XL: Five Stories Not Told


    In the media storm surrounding TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL pipeline, news outlets have largely focused on the employment impacts of the project, often parroting discredited industry statistics in the process. But jobs are only a part of the story. A review of recent testimonies, tax records and local news reports shows that, on many other important issues at stake, TransCanada has been advertising one thing to its stakeholders and delivering another. What follows is a list of stories that many national news outlets missed:

    1. TransCanada Used Aggressive Tactics With Landowners. TransCanada touts a commitment to "treating all landowners who may be affected by our project honestly, fairly and with mutual respect." But while the permit application for the Keystone XL pipeline was still pending, TransCanada sent letters to landowners along the pipeline route threatening to use eminent domain to seize their land if they did not agree to sign easements within 30 days. Landowners reportedly found this approach to be "very intimidating" and felt "bullied" by TransCanada. The Nebraska Farmers Union has repeatedly spoken out against TransCanada's "less than ethical" tactics, and, according to The New York Times, East Texas landowners said "they had never seen a company behave as aggressively as has TransCanada." Additionally a U.S. government official called the use of eminent domain "presumptuous" because the pipeline had not yet been approved. This story has been reported by the local press but largely ignored by the national media.

    2. TransCanada Didn't Deliver On Previously Promised Tax Revenue. TransCanada has promised that Keystone XL will generate $5.2 billion in property tax revenue for the U.S. states located along its route. But the company made similar promises about the first leg of the Keystone pipeline, and 2010 tax records show that it failed to deliver. In its first year of operation, Keystone 1 generated less than half ($2.2 million) of the $5.5 million projected for Nebraska, and only a third ($2.9 million) of the estimated $9 million in state property taxes for South Dakota. In Kansas, TransCanada is exempt from property taxes for a decade, which will cost the state $50 million in public revenue, according to local officials.

  • "Climategate" Redux: Conservative Media Distort Hacked Emails ... Again


    Anonymous hackers recently released another batch of emails taken from a climate research group at the University of East Anglia in 2009, along with a document containing numbered excerpts of purportedly incriminating material. Many of these selections have been cropped in a way that completely distorts their meaning, but they were nonetheless repeated by conservative media outlets who believe climate change is a "hoax" and a "conspiracy."

  • WSJ Distorts Facts to Promote Keystone XL Pipeline

    Blog ››› ››› EMILEE PIERCE

    In advance of Sunday's massive protest against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, the Wall Street Journal's Collin Levy issued a flawed column, which regurgitates false claims in an effort to belittle the pipeline's opponents. Arguing that the pipeline would create "13,000 union jobs" and "another 118,000 spin-off jobs" -- without significant irreparable damage to the environment -- Levy asks: "who needs energy security or job creation when you have environmental activists?"

    Say what? There are a number of problems here:

    1. As we noted the last time the Journal tried to whitewash the Keystone XL pipeline, it's not credible to claim that the pipeline will create "13,000 union jobs and 118,000 spin-off jobs." These figures are drawn from a widely criticized study conducted by the Perryman Group and funded by the pipeline's owner, TransCanada. Further, they aren't even properly cited by the Journal.

    The Perryman Group uses extremely opaque assumptions to conclude that the pipeline would result not in 118,000 jobs -- but in 118,935 "person-years of employment." Said differently, that's 118,000 temporary jobs lasting one-year.

    Those projections are a lot higher than estimates arrived at by Cardno Entrix, a State Department contractor with financial ties to TransCanada, and the Cornell Global Labor Institute. In fact, the Cornell study - the only independent study not funded by TransCanada - found that the pipeline could actually destroy more jobs than it creates.