State Dept. Documents Show Agency Advised TransCanada on Keystone XL Review Process

Keystone tar sands pipeline photo

Image: Ray Bodden via flickr

Friends of the Earth has obtained documents through a FOIA request showing the State Department gave advice to TransCanada during the review process for the Keystone XL pipeline.The shady relationship between the State Department and TransCanada is not news—we've known for months that Paul Elliot, a former Clinton aide, is now a lobbyist for the company behind the hotly contested Keystone XL pipeline.

But the documents indicate that as TransCanada was responding to a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, State Department officials helped the company out by providing information about the agency's internal thinking and coached TransCanada on what to say.

From Friends of the Earth:

In an email exchange from May 19, 2010, Elliott told Nora Toiv (a former campaign colleague who had become special assistant to Secretary Clinton's chief of staff) that then-State Department Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs David Goldwyn gave TransCanada's then-president and CEO Hal Kvisle "insight on what he'd like to see by way of on the record comment during this public comment period of this Keystone KXL draft environmental impact statement." Elliott wrote: "We are working with our stakeholders, shippers and vendors to deliver on the insight David shared with us and to do so by the June 15 deadline."

In that same email, Elliot also wrote: "We also spent the day on the Hill meeting with Senator's Inhofe, Thune, Nelson and Murkowski. We met with the staffs of Representatives Herseth Sandlin and Peter Welsh."

The documents also show Secretary of State Clinton saying in 2010—before an environmental review was complete—that she was "inclined" to approve the pipeline. Additionally, from FOE:

Elliott then revealed that "professionals" working for State's Goldwyn informed TransCanada's regulatory lawyer that there was the possibly of delaying the presidential permit for up to two years and requested that TransCanada give State an assessment of the possible "impact" to the company. We should note that Goldwyn subsequently left State, joined a firm that caters to oil interests, and then testified before Congress in support of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The LA Times reported more on this in July. FOE has posted the documents online [PDF] for anyone interested in reading through them more.

More on the Keystone XL pipeline:
Justice Department Asked To Investigate Top Pipeline Lobbyist
Keystone XL Pipeline Won't 'Play Any Substantial Role' In Putting Americans Back To Work: Cornell Univ. Study
Dalai Lama & Nobel Laureates Oppose Keystone XL Pipeline
Another Day, Another Spill: TransCanada Shuts Down Keystone Pipeline

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