Justice Department Asked To Investigate Top Pipeline Lobbyist


A rally in Kansas against the pipeline/via NWF

Last week, Friends of the Earth released emails it received through a Freedom of Information Act request that showed how Paul Elliot, now a TransCanada lobbyist, lobbied for the company before he was a registered. Elliot, who was once a staffer for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, appears to be using his connections to lobby for the Keystone XL pipeline. Today FOE wrote to the Justice Department to ask it to investigate Elliot to see if he violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act can result in huge fines for people who lobby on behalf of foreign corporations who fail to disclose their actions. The letter from Friends of the Earth's attorney to the Department of Justice can be found here.

"Paul Elliott, a government relations employee of TransCanada, has acted as agent of a foreign principal and therefore violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act. We respectfully request that you immediately open an investigation of this matter," wrote Friends of the Earth attorney Gail Harmon.

Meanwhile, the State Department held hearings today in Lincoln, Nebraska to hear comment about whether the Keystone XL pipeline is in the "national interest." Thousands turned out for the hearing, and the opposition was buoyed by a letter of support from Lincoln state Senator Bill Avery:

I am extremely concerned about TransCanada's questionable record of pipeline maintenance. Keystone I has already experienced 12 spills in its first year but claims no fault because those spills were at pumping stations. That's more first-year spills than any other pipeline in US history. Keystone I was recently issued a Federal Corrective Action Order in June, 2011 by the US Department of Transportation to take necessary action to protect the public, property and the environment from potential hazards associated with two spills this summer in Sargent County, North Dakota and Doniphan County, Kansas.

There is absolutely no denying that spills will happen. Enbridge dumped over 1 Million gallons of tar sand crude into Michigan's Kalamazoo River, polluting and closing the waterway to fishing and swimming for 6 months. ExxonMobile spilled 42,000 gallons of oil into the Yellowstone River contaminating America's National Park waterway. The good people of Louisiana, where I attended Tulane University, will suffer for decades from the tragedy of British Petroleum's offshore explosion. Spills can and will happen. They will poison our waterways and kill our wildlife. The Sandhills are home to the endangered Whooping and Sandhill Crane migratory bird species, the endangered American Burying Beetle, and dozens of waterfowl and wildlife. Even worse, viscous tar sands, which won't float like light sweet crude, will sink into our porous Ogallala Aquifer, contaminate our clean water systems, and cause catastrophic and irreversible damage. If we don't stop this now, future generations will forever wonder why we allowed this to happen.

The hearings are continuing this week and end on Oct 7 in Washington, DC. A huge rally is planned in DC and people can plug in through CCAN. There will also be a massive rally outside the White House put on by Tar Sands Action on Nov 6, one year from the election. The event is a sharp reminder that ultimately, despite TransCanada's shenanigans and the support of the Koch brothers, the pipeline decision is owned by President Obama and the president alone.