Boxer, Grijalva push for Keystone review probe

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) is joining Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) in his call for the Government Accountability Office to investigate the State Department’s environmental review process for the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Boxer made the request in a letter sent to the GAO on Friday, just days after Grijalva asked for a similar investigation. 

“I am writing to join Congressman Grijalva in his request. The State Department must not just follow a process for selecting outside contractors,” Boxer’s letter states. “The process must be rigorous, thorough, and transparent, especially when the project in question could put communities from Alberta, Canada, down to the Gulf Coast at risk. The American people deserve to know that their interests — not special interests — are being protected by our federal agencies.” 

Boxer serves as chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Grijalva is the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources’ subcommittee on public lands and environmental regulation. 

Their request comes just weeks after the State Department released its environment study detailing the effects of TransCanada’s proposed northern leg of the pipeline. That portion would carry oil sands from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf coast.

The report found the pipeline would not have a significant negative impact on the environment.

The two Democrats are concerned there was a conflict of interest in the State Department’s analysis in which one contractor on the study had previous contracts with TransCanada. 

Earlier this week, the GAO said it would take a few weeks before deciding to move forward with the requested investigation.

A spokesperson for Grijalva told The Hill a staffer from the GAO’s Natural Resources division personally said the agency will launch the investigation.

President Obama told governors at the White House this week he expects to make a decision on Keystone within the next couple of months.