Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations whose name has been floated as a possible secretary of state nominee, may soon face opposition from the environmental lobby over what the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) called a potential financial conflict of interest on Wednesday.
According to her May 2012 financial disclosure, Rice has an investment in TransCanada Corporation worth between $300,000 and $600,000. TransCanada is angling for the State Department’s permission to build the final portion of the Keystone XL pipeline — a 1,700-mile conduit for crude oil between Canadian deposits and Texas refineries.
If she were confirmed as secretary of state, Rice would have final authority to green-light the large section of the pipeline project still languishing in regulatory purgatory.
Canada’s oil sands contain untapped petroleum deposits in a semi-solid state that can be extracted with specialize pumps, pressurized steam or commercial solvents. The nation’s deposits, especially those in the province of Alberta, are considered the most abundant on earth.
Environmentalists oppose the oil sands pipeline project, claiming that transporting crude oil over long distances could jeopardize the integrity and purity of the Ogallala Aquifer in the event of a significant spill. That 174,0000 square mile underground reservoir contains the water needed to irrigate 30 percent of America’s cropland.
“[A]bout 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,” an NRDC blogger wrote Wednesday, “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’s disclosure form — a document required of high-ranking executive branch employees — shows that she and husband Ian Cameron, a longtime ABC News producer, have a net worth between $26,344,219 and $38,826,000. (The form requires only a range of valuations for each asset.)
In 2009, the Center for Responsive Politics ranked her the wealthiest member of the executive branch.
Rice’s asset holdings, with Cameron, include more than $1 million in exchange-traded gold, an investment in Toronto Dominion Bank worth between $1 million and $5 million and substantial cash deposits with the Royal Trust Corporation of Canada.
Those deposits include between $1.26 million and $2.56 million in Canadian dollars, and between $1.71 million and $2.56 million in U.S. dollars.