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Groups Question Influence of Clinton Ties to Oil Lobbyist on State Department Pipeline Decision

Posted Dec. 13, 2010 / Posted by: Kelly Trout

For Immediate Release
December 13, 2010

Contact:
Kelly Trout, 202-222-0722, ktrout@foe.org
Alex Moore, 202-222-0733, amoore@foe.org

Groups Question Influence of Clinton Ties to Oil Lobbyist on State Department Pipeline Decision

Freedom of Information Act request seeks answers on relationship between Secretary Clinton and former campaign manager

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Friends of the Earth, the Center for International Environmental Law, and Corporate Ethics International submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the State Department today asking for all communications between the agency and a former presidential campaign manager of Hillary Clinton’s, who in his new role as oil industry lobbyist is seeking State Department approval for the controversial Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline.

The lobbyist in question is Paul Elliott, currently chief Washington, D.C. lobbyist for TransCanada, the company aiming to build the pipeline. Prior to lobbying for TransCanada, Elliott served as the Hillary Clinton for President campaign committee’s national deputy director and chief of staff for delegate selection.

The watchdog groups cited the relationship between Secretary of State Clinton and the oil industry lobbyist as the latest in a series of developments casting doubt on whether the State Department is fulfilling its obligations to conduct a thorough and transparent review of the environmental and public health dangers of the proposed multibillion-dollar pipeline.

“TransCanada clearly sees an opportunity to get this dangerous pipeline approved through Secretary Clinton's relationship with Paul Elliott,” said Alex Moore, dirty fuels campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “Mr. Elliott’s influence in the State Department’s consideration of the pipeline is yet another reason we believe that the White House should reassign review of this project. The stakes for the public are too high to have anything but rigorous and fair scrutiny of the environmental risks of this controversial pipeline and tar sands oil.”

The tar sands oil pipeline, which would stretch from Canada to refineries in Texas, has been opposed by environmental and agricultural organizations because it would threaten communities with oil spills, increase global warming and other toxic air emissions, and enable expansion of the destructive tar sands oil industry in Canada, which is already causing cancer hot spots in nearby indigenous communities.

Secretary Clinton’s objectivity on the pipeline and the thoroughness of her agency's review have already been questioned: In October, Secretary Clinton commented that she was “inclined” to approve the project despite the fact that her agency is in the midst of conducting a legally mandated Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project. Environmental organizations called on her to recuse herself from the decision and Senator Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) said her comments could land the project in court. The Environmental Protection Agency gave the State Department's draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Keystone XL pipeline a failing grade, provoking calls from dozens of members of Congress for a supplemental EIS.

The Keystone XL pipeline has garnered extensive criticism from policymakers. House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) opposes the pipeline and more than 60 members of Congress have joined him in raising serious concerns about the project with the Obama administration.

The Keystone XL pipeline would be constructed by Canadian oil and gas giant TransCanada. If approved by the Obama administration, it would bring high-carbon, dirty tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas to Gulf Coast refineries near Houston at a rate of 900,000 barrels per day.

The Freedom of Information Act request submitted to the State Department is available at: http://www.foe.org/sites/default/files/FOIA-request-State-Department-Paul-Elliott-Keystone-XL-pipeline.pdf

More information about the Keystone XL pipeline is available at: http://www.foe.org/keystone-xl-pipeline


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