Edward Snowden isn’t the only whistleblower getting attention at the moment. TransCanada, the company that owns the Keystone pipeline and wants to expand it all the way to the gulf coast, has a whistleblower named Evan Vokes who is making life difficult for them.
Former TransCanada Corp. employee Evan Vokes’ impassioned testimony before a Canadian Senate committee last week painted “a very, very bleak picture of the pipeline industry in Canada, and probably by extension, the States,” according to Sen. Betty Unger.
Vokes’ allegations on Thursday against TransCanada, the Canadian company leading the controversial proposal to send tar sands oil from Alberta to the Gulf Coast via the Keystone XL pipeline, were sobering: a “culture of noncompliance” and “coercion,” with “deeply entrenched business practices that ignored legally required regulations and codes” and carries “significant public safety risks.”
“It’s organized crime, in my opinion,” Vokes, an expert in pipeline welding and now whistleblower against his ex-employer, told The Huffington Post after the hearing. “The source of revenue is legal, but how they go about it isn’t legal.”
TransCanada quickly came to its own defense after learning of the attack.
“We take great exception to the claims by Mr. Vokes that we do not take safety and compliance issues seriously,” company spokesman Shawn Howard told HuffPost. “Our track record and the safety of our energy infrastructure network shows that we do.”
Really? Less than five years ago, they opened the Keystone I pipeline, which ships tar sands crude oil from Alberta to refineries here in the midwest. They told regulators then they same thing they’re now saying about the proposed Keystone XL expansion, that pipeline technology had improved dramatically and that they were using state of the art equipment and monitoring that would prevent spills. So far they’ve had more than 30 such spills on that one pipeline alone (not to mention the massive million gallon leak of tar sands oil from Enbridge’s Lakehead pipeline here in Michigan in 2010). Their safety track record should be the last thing they want to talk about.
Not that this will change anything, of course. There isn’t a chance in hell that Keystone XL is not approved by the Obama administration. There’s simply too much money to be made by people with too much access to power.