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Keystone XL: What did API know and when? Groups FOIA State Department for communication with Big Oil, Canadian government

Posted Feb. 4, 2014 / Posted by: Adam Russell

Friends of the Earth, Sierra Club and Oil Change International have filed a FOIA request to the State Department to unearth insider communications with the Canadian government and oil industry in the weeks leading up to the release of its Final Environmental Impact Statement.

As the American public awaited the FEIS, Canadian government officials, American Petroleum Institute’s Jack Gerard, and TransCanada’s Russ Girling gave the impression that they had already been briefed on the contents of the report:

  • Reuters, January 27: “‘It's our expectation it will be released next week,’ [American Petroleum Institute’s] chief executive, Jack Gerard, said last week during an interview, citing sources within the administration.”
  • Reuters, January 30: “Canadian officials said this month they expected the report to come out soon after Obama’s annual State of the Union speech, which took place Tuesday. And the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry's top lobbying group, has predicted that the report could be released this week, citing administration sources.”
  • CBC, January 29: “Canadian officials say they're encouraged by what they're hearing about a long-awaited report on the environmental impact of the Keystone XL pipeline that could be released imminently by the U.S. State Department. Those sources in Washington and Ottawa say they've been told the report could be ready for release within a few days -- and that it will bolster the case for the controversial energy project.”

“For the State Department to use a conflicted consultant and then give priority information to the oil industry and Canadian government would be completely unethical, and a huge breach of trust with Congress and the American public,” said Ross Hammond, Friends of the Earth senior campaigner.

“Big Oil is running scared, doing all they can to rig the process in their favor because they know there’s no other way such a disastrous project could be approved. It’s time to clear the air on what’s really going on in Foggy Bottom and let the dirty truth of Keystone XL shine through,” said David Turnbull, campaigns director of Oil Change International.

“The oil industry and the Harper government’s inside knowledge of the final report raises yet another red flag on the integrity of the State Department’s environmental review process,” said Doug Hayes, Sierra Club staff attorney. “The agency’s inspector general is currently investigating mismanagement, bias and conflict of interest, now we’ll add this to the list.”

The FOIA requests “all records, documents, and materials pertaining to the planned release date and/or content of the Keystone XL Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement occurring from November 1, 2013, through January 31, 2014, between State Department staff (including but not limited to Keith Benes, Kerri-Ann Jones and Genevieve Walker) and the following parties:

  • American Petroleum Institute,
  • TransCanada,
  • Government of Alberta,
  • Government of Canada,
  • or other oil industry representatives,
  • or law firms representing the above entities.

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Contact:
Friends of the Earth: Ross Hammond, rhammond@foe.org
Sierra Club: Eddie Scher, eddie.scher@sierraclub.org
Oil Change International: David Turnbull, david@priceofoil.org

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