Weekly Standard Fails To Disclose Energy Interests Behind Anti-Regulation Rant

In this week's print edition of the Weekly Standard, Adam White writes that delays in the Keystone XL pipeline and the Cape Wind offshore wind project are examples of a “worrisome trend” -- that a “convoluted” regulatory process is “killing energy development” in America.

The Weekly Standard identifies White as “a lawyer in Washington, D.C.”, without disclosing the fact that his law firm -- Boyden Gray & Associates -- represents Exelon, FirstEnergy, and possibly other energy companies that stand to benefit from dismantling federal regulations. According to his website, White works on “energy regulation” and “environmental regulation” at the firm.

In his column, White parrots discredited industry talking points about the “economic benefits” of the Keystone XL pipeline:

The pipeline's economic benefit to the United States is impressive: The Canadian Energy Research Institute estimates that construction and operation of the Keystone XL pipeline would increase our gross domestic product by more than $200 billion between 2010 and 2035, and support close to 85,000 U.S. jobs in 2020.

The Canadian Energy Research Institute is sponsored by oil companies such as Imperial Oil Limited, which is represented on CERI's Board of Directors and would directly benefit from the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline.

CERI's claim that the pipeline could support 85,000 U.S. jobs is far higher than even TransCanada's figures. TransCanada estimated that Keystone XL would create 13,000 direct construction jobs, stressing that those are temporary jobs. And even that is a stretch according to the State Department's analysis, which puts that number closer to 5,000.

Furthermore, a Cornell University report points out that the pipeline's jobs impact “could be completely outweighed by the project's potential to destroy jobs through rising fuel costs, spill damage and clean up operations, air pollution and increased GHG emissions.”

This is not the first time conservative media have grossly exaggerated Keystone XL's job impact. Fox News anchors have claimed the pipeline would generate anywhere between 20,000 and a million jobs.

The Weekly Standard article goes on to blast President Obama's decision to explore alternative routes for the pipeline to address environmental concerns, saying:

The president further stressed the need for “an open, transparent process that is informed by the best available science and the voices of the American people.” But his remarks obscured the fact that the State Department's three-year review had been open and transparent: The final environmental impact statement included a 100-page appendix responding to public comments. And the process's scientific bona fides were not seriously in dispute.

In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency said the draft review did not sufficiently “assess the environmental impacts of the proposed Project, including potential impacts to groundwater resources and communities that could be affected by potential increases in refinery emissions.” And the Department of the Interior criticized the State Department's “minimal” discussion of protections for endangered species.

White also downplays serious concerns about the objectivity of the review process that arose after emails were released indicating a cozy relationship between a TransCanada lobbyist and State Department officials. The review process is currently under investigation by the State Department's Inspector General.