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Groups call for investigation into State Department's Keystone XL pipeline review

Posted Oct. 28, 2011 / Posted by: Nick Berning

Letter identifies specific regulations State Department officials appear to have violated

WASHINGTON, D.C.— National environmental groups today called on the State Department’s inspector general to investigate wrongdoing by department officials in its review of the proposed Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline.

The groups sent Deputy State Department Inspector General Harold W. Geisel a letter identifying several U.S. Office of Government Ethics regulations that State Department officials appear to have violated.

“TransCanada hired good friends of Secretary Clinton to lobby for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and it seems to have paid off with access and patronage from the State Department,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “This is surprising from Secretary Clinton, whom we’ve known as a champion of children’s health and the environment. It’s time to roll back the curtain on TransCanada, this dirty political insider game, and this dangerous and unnecessary pipeline.”

“The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline has serious implications for our energy future, so it is important that Americans have confidence that it is not being pushed forward in a biased manner,” said Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke. “There is a very real, very loud drumbeat for clean energy and a healthy climate — and it is growing louder. Increasing our dependence on tar sands, the dirtiest oil on the planet, does not fit that clean energy future. The President should reject the Keystone XL pipeline.”

In recent months, evidence has mounted that the State Department’s review of the proposed pipeline has been corrupted by bias, lobbyist influence and conflicts of interest. Internal State Department emails show department employees cheering for, coaching and providing inside information to pipeline firm TransCanada. A document obtained via Wikileaks indicates that U.S. officials sought to “alleviate” Canadian’ officials concerns that the pipeline review might actually be impartial. And recent reports show that the contractor conducting the department’s review of the pipeline’s likely environmental impacts was recommended and paid for by TransCanada and that it has serious conflicts of interest, some of which it failed to disclose.

“The evidence is in and it’s clear that the State Department’s analysis is completely inadequate and has been irreparably tainted, but the White House appears to be in denial,” said Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth. “An inspector general’s investigation could force President Obama to face this sad reality and respond the only responsible way: either the permit should be rejected outright or the president needs to order a brand new environmental review with a new lead agency and new contractors involved.”

The letter sent today to Deputy Inspector General Geisel can be found here.

For background information about evidence of wrongdoing by State Department officials, visit: http://www.foe.org/news/blog/keystone-xl-pipeline-influence-scandal

Contact:

Josh Mogerman, jmogerman@nrdc.org or 312-651-7909
Eddie Scher, 415-815-7027 or eddie.scher@sierraclub.org
Nick Berning, 202-222-0748 or nberning@foe.org

Letter to Deputy Inspector General Geisel (Letter)

Request for Investigation of State Department Actions re: Keystone XL Pipeline Project

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