Trump Appointees Give Canadian Oil Firm Right To Seize Land From US Landowners
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission voted 2-1 in March to allow plans for a pipeline in Oregon to move forward, and in doing so also gave a Canadian company the right to seize land from American property owners.
On the docket was a proposal to build a natural gas pipeline that would slice through hundreds of miles of Oregon wilderness, private lands and areas sacred to American Indians. The plan, which had been repeatedly rejected by state and federal regulators for more than a decade, would give a Canadian company the right to seize the land it needed from any American property owner who stood in the way.
- The report notes that the project, spearheaded by the Canadian company Veresen Midstream, had been shot down numerous times, most recently in 2016, but change began not long after Trump entered the White House.
A few weeks after Trump took office, the CEO of Veresen met with Gary Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs executive who was the new head of the National Economic Council. Gary Althoff, Veresen’s CEO, told an interviewer that Cohn had given him a commitment to work together. Soon after, Cohn publicly declared that “the first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to permit an [liquified natural gas] export facility in the Northwest,” adding: “Just think of the transport time from the Northwest to Japan versus anywhere else.”
- Just ten days later, Veresen was purchased by Pembina, which ProPublica noted is a larger Canadian energy company.
- Pembina turned to longtime lobbyist and former Trump campaign adviser David Urban to argue their case to the top of the political food chain. ProPublica reported that The New York Times later called Urban “perhaps the best-connected lobbyist” in the Trump era.
- ProPublica further noted,
He had been a West Point cadet with two of Trump’s cabinet appointees: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
Trump has called him a “good friend,” and the two have been seen together at sporting events and flying on Marine One.
According to disclosure reports, he began directly lobbying the executive office of the president and FERC to support Jordan Cove in the spring of 2018.
- The report noted that “Pembina also added lobbyists from the firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, which formerly employed the secretary of the interior, David Bernhardt.”
By the summer of 2018, the Bureau of Land Management began setting aside a reserve for the pipeline — 885 acres and counting — and the Department of the Interior has since put Jordan Cove on a list of expedited projects to support the nation’s economic recovery.
- With these measures in place and the fact that two of the three FERC members were appointed by Trump himself, the fix was in:
Two of the three members had been appointed by the president, whose enthusiasm for any project that might be cast as boosting America’s fossil fuel industry is nothing if not predictable.
Both Republicans voted yes. … The Democrat on the losing side of the 2-1 vote called the approval a departure from reasoned decision-making and complained that his colleagues had not even considered the effect an export gas facility would have on climate change.