Enviros File SEC Complaint Over Keystone Pipeline


On Monday, Senate Republicans formally announced that they are introducing legislation that would force the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline with or without the consent of the Obama administration. Unless that bill passes, however, the project remains on hold indefinitely. That has created some interesting business questions for TransCanada, the company that wants to build the pipeline.

Now environmental activists are upping the pressure on their foe. Last week, Greenpeace sent a letter (PDF) to Mary Schapiro, the chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, requesting an SEC investigation into whether TransCanada has been misleading investors about the income it could receive from the pipeline project. In the January 26 letter, Phil Radford, the executive director of Greenpeace, accused TransCanada of violating the SEC’s “Employment of Manipulative and Deceptive Practices” rule, arguing that that the company misled investors in its filings and public statements by exaggerating both the number of jobs that the pipeline would create and the amount of money it would bring in.

TransCanada’s most recent disclosure projects that Keystone pipeline complex will contribute $1.7 billion in earned income when it becomes fully operational. That amount would represent 26 percent the company’s projected earnings in 2015. But with the project on hold indefinitely, those sorts of revenues seem out of reach.

Meanwhile, Corbin Hiar reports at iWatch News that TransCanada spent nearly half a million dollars lobbying for the pipeline last year.

TransCanada plans to reapply for approval in the future. Inside Climate has a good rundown of the company’s options going forward. But as Greenpeace’s Radford notes in his letter, failing to win approval for the pipeline will “significantly impact the company’s future earnings and share price.”

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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.