54 Activists Arrested After Shutting Down Keystone XL Contractor’s Office in D.C.

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Photo by Sierra Club/Javier Sierra
The activists, chanting, “ERM are professional liars, hurry up and get them fired,” were arrested after about 30 minutes.

On July 26, 54 activists entered Environmental Resources Management’s (ERM) Washington, D.C. office and refused to leave. The activists, chanting, “ERM are professional liars, hurry up and get them fired,” were arrested after about 30 minutes. They were there to protest the contractor’s role in writing the State Department’s Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

When ERM was hired by the State Department to review the environmental impact of Keystone XL, the firm provided inaccurate information on its conflict of interest agreement in claiming to have no relationship with any business that would be affected by construction of the pipeline. In fact, ERM’s own publicly available documents show that the firm does business with over a dozen companies — including Exxon, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Total and Syncrude — with operating stakes in the Alberta tar sands. ERM is also a member of the American Petroleum Institute, the largest U.S. trade association for the fossil fuel industry.

“We fully expect that Secretary Kerry and President Obama will clean up this mess and reset the process on the State Department’s review of KXL,” said Daniel Kessler of 350.org. “It’s no surprise that ERM found that Keystone will not have an adverse environmental impact when it stands to gain from its construction. This isn’t how government is supposed to work.”

In papers filed with the State Department in June 2012, ERM certified that it had “no existing contract or working relationship with TransCanada” for at least three years. But public records show that TransCanada, ERM and an ERM subsidiary, Oasis Environmental, have worked together at least since 2011. 

This action is being facilitated by 350.org’s “Summer Heat” mobilization in coordination with the Walk for our Grandchildren, and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

“If President Obama does the wrong thing and green lights the Keystone XL, my friends and thousands more besides us will be doing this again and again on construction sites and other places until the pipeline is dead and gone,” said Greg Yost, walker and organizer with the Walk for Our Grandchildren.

Activists were taken to the First District and Second District headquarters and many were released at the time of writing.

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