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Plot Thickens On Politics Of Keystone Pipeline XL

Documents released as a result of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Earthjustice have uncovered strong ties between Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and the team of lobbyists hired to promote the pipeline’s approval at the State Department.

The documents provide evidence of inappropriately cozy relationships between State Department employees and lobbyists for TransCanada, the pipeline company. One State Department official cheered “Go Paul!” after TransCanada lobbyist Paul Elliott announced that the pipeline company had obtained new support for the pipeline. As the New York Times commented, these guys are clearly on the same team.

After the release of the first round of FOIA documents, researchers at a DeSmogBlog.com dug a little deeper and discovered additional ties between pipeline lobbyists and State Department. 

Today, Earthjustice, on behalf of Friends of the Earth, the Center for International Environmental Law and Corporate Ethics International, is expanding the request, asking the State Department to release all documents concerning communications between the agency and TransCanada staff, as well as with employees of two lobbying firms with close ties to Clinton and the Obama administration who have been retained by TransCanada.  The original FOIA request focused narrowly on correspondence with Paul Elliott, TransCanada’s lead Washington, D.C. lobbyist who was formerly a high-ranking Hillary Clinton campaign aide.

“The Obama Administration has played a lot of lip service to transparency and fair dealing” said Earthjustice staff attorney Sarah Burt. “We intend to do what we can to ensure the law is followed and these commitments are honored.”

There’s a lot riding on the State Department’s permitting decision. . The pipeline would bring some of the world’s dirtiest, most highly polluting oil to the U.S. from Canada, threatening land and communities along the length of the pipeline with risks of leaks and spills. Tar sands mining is destroying caribou and migratory bird habitat in Alberta—and killing birds that land in toxic wastewater pits, mistaking them for freshwater ponds.

And because of the energy and water-intensive extraction and refining processes, the greenhouse gas emissions associated with tar sands oil are dramatically higher than emissions from conventional oil.

We’ll keep you posted on the trail of documents. In the meantime, a bit of parody and humor may be in order….

About the Earthjustice Blog

unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.