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article imageDocs show US gov’t bias to Keystone XL during environmental study

By Lynn Herrmann     Sep 26, 2011 in Politics
Washington - New documents reveal the US State Department was “doing favors” for TransCanada during a government review of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline and sheds light on a White House bias in favor of the pipeline.
After a Freedom of Information Act request by Friends of the Earth, the Center for International Environmental Law and Corporate Ethics International was ignored by the US government, a lawsuit was filed by EarthJustice in May, representing the groups.
Since then, the Justice Department has “finally begun” releasing documents between departmental staff and Paul Elliott, TransCanada’s lobbyist and former high-ranking aide during Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, according to Friends of the Earth.
Among the initial batch of 34 documents (pdf) released, all originating from the Office of the Secretary, are concerns over State Department “bias” and Clinton’s comment herself before the required environmental review had been completed in which she stated she was “inclined” toward project approval.
According to Friends of the Earth, Elliott “enjoyed a cozy relationship” with State Department employees, exploiting his previous campaign position in securing high-level meetings.
Elliott was a staunch lobbyist for the pipeline as early as June 2009, the correspondence shows. However, he did not register as a federal lobbyist until after news organizations began reporting on his unregistered lobbying status in December 2010. Since he was lobbying for a foreign corporation, Friends of the Earth points out his failure to register may have been a serious violation of the Foreign Agent Registration Act.
Other documents reveal State Department officials helped TransCanada by “providing information about State’s internal thinking and by coaching TransCanada on what to say” in response to the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), Friends of the Earth notes.
In another email correspondence (pdf) from December 6, 2009, Elliott offered to have TransCanada lobby the Canadian government on behalf of the State Department, with Elliott stating “TransCanada executives spend a great deal of time with Ottawa government officials” and added “TransCanada can be an asset for the state department and I hope you might see us as such.”
The Keystone XL pipeline has seen increased opposition in the US as concerned citizens, including Hollywood celebrities, authors and environmentalists staged massive protests in late August and earlier this month in front of the White House, resulting in the arrests of hundreds.
On Monday in Canada, groups are conducting a sit-in on Parliament Hill, protesting government support of the Keystone XL, in what could be the largest civil disobedience action in Canada's climate movement history. The demonstration comes after a government official noted last Friday Canada's excess energy is matched only by US excess demand for energy, with Canada's energy minister, Joe Oliver, called critics of the pipeline a threat to Canadian "security."
More about Environmental impact, keystone xl pipeline, keystone xl, transcanada keystone, did favors
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