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State Dept. Keystone XL North Contractor ERM Approved Project Now Melting Glaciers

Tien Shan mountains

A controversial government contractor once again finds itself in hot water, or in this case, melting glacier water.

TransCanada chose Environmental Resources Management Group (ERM) as one of its contractors to conduct the environmental impact statement for Keystone XL on behalf of the U.S. State Department. That contractor, ERM Group also happens to have green-lighted a gold mining project in central Asia that is now melting glaciers.

ERM Group has a penchant for rubber-stamping projects that have had tragic environmental and public health legacies. For example, ERM formerly worked on behalf of the tobacco industry to pitch the safety of its deadly product.

A January 2014 study about Keystone XL’s climate change impacts published in the journal Nature Climate Change paints a drastically different picture than ERMGroup’s Keystone XL tar sands study.

The Kumtor Gold Mine, owned by Centerra Gold/Cameco Corporation, was provided a stamp of approval from ERM Group in October 2012. Similar to the TransCanada arrangement with the State Department on Keystone XL, Centerra served as the funder of the report evaluating its own project.

“The mine sits at an altitude of 4,000 meters above sea level, in the Tien Shan mountain range and among some of Kyrgyzstan’s – and the region’s – most important glaciers,” explained an October 28 story published in Asia Times.

Centerra Gold has consistently dismissed as untrue that operations at Kumtor have had negative implications for the glaciers, which are reportedly melting with observable speed due to years of dumping rock tailings onto the ice sheet. The Canadian company has backed its position with expert evaluations from consultancies such as Environmental Resources Management.

DeSmogBlog’s finding comes in the aftermath of the U.S. House of Representatives voting to authorize the Alberta to Cushing, Oklahoma Keystone XL northern leg, with a vote in the U.S. Senate to follow on November.

Josh Earnest, White House press secretary, hinted President Barack Obama will veto the bill if it arrives at his desk, with Obama also sounding as if a veto looms in a recent public appearance.

“I have to constantly push back against the idea that Keystone is either a massive jobs bill for the U.S. or is somehow lowering gas prices,” said Obama. “Understand what the project is, it will provide the ability for Canada to pump their oil and send it through their land down to the Gulf where it will be sold everywhere else.”

Bill Promoters Cite ERM Report

Promoters of the latest legislative push to ram through Keystone XL North have cited ERM’s State Department report as a reason for why Obama should sign off on the bill.

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