House Rushes Keystone XL While State Dept. Sued Over Communication With Tar Sands Lobbyist

Keystone tar sands pipeline photo

Image: Ray Bodden via flickr

Environmental groups filed a federal lawsuit last week against the U.S. State Department for refusing to release communications between the department and Paul Elliott, a former Clinton aide and now a lobbyist for TransCanada, the company behind the proposed tar sands pipeline. The suit follows a FOIA request for the records between Elliott and Clinton by the environmental groups, which include Friends of the Earth, Earthjustice, Corporate Ethics International, and the Center for International Environmental Law. From the groups' press release:

Before deciding whether to grant a permit, the State Department must analyze the pipeline's risks and finalize an Environmental Impact Statement. After the EPA told the State Department its draft environmental impact statement was inadequate, Secretary Clinton nonetheless said, last October, that the State Department was "inclined to approve" the permit.

Meanwhile, the House Energy and Power Subcommittee has been reviewing the North American-Made Energy Security Act, which directs President Obama to expedite final review of the Keystone XL pipeline.

According to Reuters, the bill includes an "odd turn" that "insists the U.S. State Department issue a decision about granting a presidential permit for the Keystone XL by an evidently arbitrary Nov. 1 deadline."

The highly-contested pipeline would pump diluted bitumen from Alberta's tar sands—called the most destructive project in the world—to the Gulf Coast. It's a project from TransCanada, whose Keystone 1 pipeline spilled 21,000 gallons in North Dakota just a few weeks ago.

Reuters reports that NRDC's Susan Casey-Lefkowitz "and others tracking the proposed pipeline are curious how Upton can champion the oil sands cause when his home district in Southwestern Michigan is still recovering from one of the worst spills of diluted bitumen in U.S. history."

"He's encouraging a pipeline to be built before we have adequate safety standards in place... This just doesn't make sense when Upton has firsthand experience with the dangers of tar sands."

More on the tar sands pipeline
TransCanada Pipeline Spills 21,000 Gallons of Oil in North Dakota
State Dept Stays Quiet on Tar Sands Communication with Oil Lobbyist, Former Clinton Aide
Wikileaks Reveals Hushed Concern Over Tar Sands Oil in US State Dept.
Canadian Official Threatens Obama and Clinton With Cutting Off Tar Sands Oil
25 U.S. Mayors Speak Out Against Tar Sands Pipeline

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