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Susan Rice, Top Candidate for Secretary of State, Has Millions Tied to Canadian Tar Sands

Stephen Lacey
Think Progress / News Report
Published: Thursday 29 November 2012
“If Rice eventually becomes Secretary of State, she could recuse herself from any decision on Keystone XL.”
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Most of the attacks against Susan Rice, Obama’s supposed top pick for Secretary of State, have come from Republicans. But now the left — mainly groups opposed to developing Canadian tar sands — may have some reasons to question Rice.

According to a report from OnEarth Magazine, Rice has millions of dollars tied up in top Canadian energy companies — including TransCanada, the company pushing for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

The 1,700 mile Keystone XL pipeline would pipe carbon-intensive tar sands crude from Alberta to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. Because the pipeline crosses international borders, its approval falls under the jurisdiction of the State Department. That means Rice — or any other candidate tapped to head the State Department — would be responsible for approving or rejecting the project.

Here’s what the OnEarth investigation of Rice’s finances found:

Rice’s financial holdings could raise questions about her status as a neutral decision maker. The current U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Rice owns stock valued between $300,000 and $600,000 in TransCanada, the company seeking a federal permit to transport tar sands crude 1,700 miles to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast, crossing fragile Midwest ecosystems and the largest freshwater aquifer in North America.

Beyond that, according to financial disclosure reportsabout a third of Rice’s personal net worth is tied up in oil producers, pipeline operators, and related energy industries north of the 49th parallel — including companies with poor environmental and safety records on both U.S. and Canadian soil. Rice and her husband own at least $1.25 million worth of stock in four of Canada’s eight leading oil producers, as ranked by Forbes magazine. That includes Enbridge, which spilled more than a million gallons of toxic bitumen into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in 2010 – the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history.

Rice also has smaller stakes in several other big Canadian energy firms, as well as the country’s transportation companies and coal-fired utilities. Another 20 percent or so of her personal wealth is derived from investments in five Canadian banks. These are some of the institutions that provide loans and financial backingto TransCanada and its competitors for tar sands extraction and major infrastructure projects, such as Keystone XL and Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, which would stretch 700 miles from Alberta to the Canadian coast.

And also this:

According to her most recent financial disclosure reports, along with her TransCanada investments, Rice and her husband own at least $1.5 million worth of stock in Enbridge (Canada’s No. 3 oil producer, according to Forbes), Cenovus (No. 7), and Encana (No. 8), as well as at least $1.25 million in Imperial (No. 2), $50,000 to $100,000 in Suncor (No. 1), and $15,000 to $50,000 in Canadian Natural (No. 6). (TransCanada is ranked at No. 5 by Forbes.) The couple has at least $1.25 million invested in Transalta, Alberta’s largest coal-fired electricity power producer, and at least $1.5 million in Canadian Pacific Railway, which transports coal, oil, and gas and has been a major financial beneficiary of the North American energy boom.

Calling development of the tar sands “game over” for the climate, environmental groups are making the Keystone XL pipeline their number one fight after the election. Although Rice has had no connection to the decision making process around Keystone XL, her finances raise more concerns from environmental groups working to shut down the pipeline.

Over the past 18 months, a number of questionable relationships between State Department officials and TransCanada have been uncovered.

In July of last year, WikiLeaks released a diplomatic cable from the State Department’s energy envoy written in 2009. In that cable, the official said he had “alleviated” the Canadian government’s concerns about getting tar sands crude into the U.S., and instructed them on how to improve their “oil sands messaging” by “increasing visibility and accessibility of more positive news stories.”

Last October, it was revealed that the State Department contractor performing the environmental assessment of Keystone XL was deeply connected to the pipeline’s developer, TransCanada. Also in October of 2011, emails obtained from the State Department showed that officials in the agency were coaching TransCanada about how to navigate the regulatory process, raising questions about the coziness of the relationship between the two parties.

And in December of 2011, four members of Congress were called out by the Sunlight Foundation for owning shares in TransCanada while also pushing legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

“The State Department has been rife with collusion with the Canadian pipeline builders, and it’s really distressing to have any sense that that might continue to go on,” said Bill McKibben, one of the activists leading the fight against Keystone XL, to OnEarth.

If Rice eventually becomes Secretary of State, she could recuse herself from any decision on Keystone XL. The White House has not yet commented on Rice’s financial stake in these Canadian energy companies.

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ABOUT Stephen Lacey

Stephen Lacey is a reporter/blogger for Climate Progress, where he writes on clean energy policy, technologies, and finance. Before joining CP, he was an editor/producer with He received his B.A. in journalism from Franklin Pierce University.

Oil Addiction, Wall Street

Oil Addiction, Wall Street Greed and Endless War are the deadly seeds of American Empire.


Just the fact that Rice owns

Just the fact that Rice owns stocks in the fossil fuel industry should disqualify her from public office altogether.

I was feeling sorry for her

I was feeling sorry for her because of the regugnants are falsifying the facts and trying to make her look like evil incarnate with regards to Benghazi but the fact that she would have a say in approving the xl pipeline has made me less forgiving.

Government "service" is all

Government "service" is all about the perks and the accessibility to corporations and institutions that allow our representatives to gorge themselves at the trough of avarice. ANONO is correct in implying that these folks "don't" come from the neighborhood. Ava Rice...Susan Rice. I believe that former applies more suitably than the latter. Fossil fuel burning will simply be the death of all living things on the planet. Perhaps it would be wise to invest in a cockroach farm. Apostles of "Intelligent Design," I feel your pain.

Presumably Ms Rice and her

Presumably Ms Rice and her husband acquired these stocks before she became UN ambassador, or at least before she had any influence on the Keystone decision. Nevertheless, this illustrates the problem of a plutocratic government operated to benefit the rich. A blind trust or divestiture are not the solution. There are plenty of capable candidates available, some of whom could even use a job paying a couple of hundred grand.

Can you name some qualified,

Can you name some qualified, trustworthy candidates for Secretary of State?
Enuf seems to be proposing Lynn Woolsey.

OOhhhh this is not good!

OOhhhh this is not good! KEYSTONE OUTRAGE

To start with, the six states through which the Keystone-XL pipeline is planned, Kansas, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas, have all given TransCanada the power of eminent domain! Some of the states have a modicum of private protection, but in Texas, if TransCanada wants your land, it's theirs.

They have given a foreign private company... transporting foreign private goods... to be exported to foreign markets... through U.S. territory... the power to take private U.S. land!! And our courts will probably bow down and not consider this an "unreasonable seizure", as prohibited by our constitution.

It's more than outrageous. It's thievery by TransCanada and the politicians and courts who bent to money.

Just some facts on the pipeline

"What's the advantage of sending Canadian crude to refineries way down in Port Arthur, Texas? Aha - because it's a port, and duty free (no export taxes). What the pushers of Keystone want to keep secret from you and me is that this oil will not be made into gasoline for our vehicles. Most of it will be refined into diesel and jet fuel and exported to Europe, China, and Latin America. The claim that the pipeline will reduce our reliance on OPEC is an outright lie."

It will provide only a few hundred temporary construction jobs, and a few dozen maintenance/monitoring jobs.

Why not run it straight west through all that unspoiled Canadian wilderness to the coast? It couldn't be that they're afraid of a spill, could it? Or, maybe just tearing through the unspoiled tundra into the biggest salmon fishery on the coast might offend someone (not be politically survivable). The Canadian government itself has delayed any approval of a pipeline on Canadian soil. Environmental and property ownership factors are a major concern for them, as they should be for us.

The Keystone XL pipeline would be an enormous physical structure, spanning almost two thousand miles, requiring special engineering almost every few yards of the way as it crosses mountains, lakes, rivers, forests, farmland, transmission lines and roads. And critical aquafers. It will have numerous pumping stations and "should" have a sophisticated electronic monitoring and control system, which itself would be subject to multiple failures.

There will be "several" spills/year. As an engineer, I can tell you that such a structure cannot be built to be spill proof, and there is a statistical certainty that it cannot operate flawlessly. It follows there is a statistical certainty of spills. Trans Canada itself "guessed" it would suffer a spill every seven years...but their own pipeline experience is a dozen spills in a year.

After it's useful life, the structure bisecting the United States will remain as an enormous, silent, ugly monument to corporate greed and political corruption.

“The Keystone XL pipeline is probably the single most environmentally destructive project in North America threatening millions of trees and thousands of miles of rivers, lakes and streams as it snakes its way across the nation’s heartland." This is not an idle concern. : as Bill McKibben recently pointed out, if burned in their entirety they’d kick up 240 gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere, raising the earth’s temperature by a little less than one degree. That may not seem like much until you consider our carbon “limit” for the entire Earth is only two degrees—after that, we haven’t got much hope.

"Dr. James Hansen reiterated the case against tar sands in the New York Times, pointing out that the deposits contain "twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history." If we burn them on top of all the coal and oil and gas we're already using, "concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era" - a wildly different and likely unlivable earth. "

A little looking on the Internet about the pipeline shows the only real beneficiaries would be the oil companies, and state governments that will receive some transit tax, at great cost to the public well being.

The pipeline is a political boondoggle at the behest of big oil. Altogether, the company paid $1.33 million on lobbying (read bribes) in D.C. last year. Senators voting for the pipeline have received $27,552,302 from fossil fuel industries, on average, 3 times more than those voting against it. John Boehner (R-Ohio) had “folks from Keystone management as his guests at the State of the Union speech.

The fact that the payroll tax cut for American families had been held hostage to this environmental train wreck is unbelievable. And then, the thieving crooked Republicans in D.C. held a critical transportation bill hostage to the approval of this farce. This whole deal is just rotten from the tar sands to the stinking refineries in Texas, that have already ruined our air, and all so that the pathetically clueless fundamentalists morons can "win one".

Just as a footnote, the biggest U.S. export in 2011 was...fuel! Think about that until you come up with a clue about why oil interests want the pipeline.

This underlines the very

This underlines the very problem with the US government! Most electees. appointees, officer enlistees and employees see time in government as a money making venture for themselves rather than a call to duty and service to the American people. Is there anyone in Congress or the White House that actually came from a working family and themselves worked for a living? Few if any. Then not succumbimg to the perversions of Babylon?

Which is why the presidency is so coveted. In 4 or more years you're a billionaire. As now is GW and as Obama will be.

Lynn Woolsey, although she

Lynn Woolsey, although she just retired

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