Questions are looming over why the State Department won't release its correspondence with Paul Elliott, a former campaign staffer for Hillary Clinton and current oil lobbyist who is seeking Clinton's approval for the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline that would connect Canada with refineries in Texas, and run through six states in between.Friends of the Earth, Corporate Ethics International, and the Center for International
Environmental Law filed an appeal today with the State Department over its rejection earlier this month of the groups' FOIA request [PDF] for communication between the agency and Elliott, a lobbyist for TransCanada (the company behind the pipeline).
Marcie Keever, legal director for Friends of the Earth, said: "we contend that the State Department is violating the Freedom of Information Act. We are hopeful that with this appeal the State Department will release communications between the oil lobbyist and Secretary Clinton and her staffers. If the agency doesn't, we will take it to court if necessary."
This is not the first source of skepticism on this issue. Last month, Wikileaks revealed the Obama administration's questionable approach to oil sands development—making it clear, TreeHugger wrote, "that both Canada and the United States are aware of the dreadful impact of the Alberta tar sands -- roundly dubbed the 'most destructive project on earth'. Yet, the public statements from both parties differ significantly from the private cables."
Friends of the Earth explains: "Groups urged Secretary Clinton to recuse herself from the Keystone XL pipeline decision following statements in October that she was 'inclined' to approve the project and would 'probably not' change her mind, even though the department has not yet completed the legally mandated review."
And a little more context for how the pipeline project is being implemented:
Related recent developments have exposed the extent of TransCanada's manipulation of landowners along the pipeline's proposed route. In South Dakota, TransCanada has filed more than a dozen lawsuits to condemn land along the pipeline's proposed route, even though the company has not received the federal permit required for construction. In Oklahoma, a farm family is suing TransCanada to defend its property, claiming that the company's attempt to use eminent domain is unlawful.
Damon Moglen of Friends of the Earth said: "In this year's State of the Union address, the president said that, 'Because you deserve to know when your elected officials are meeting with lobbyists, I ask Congress to do what the White House has already done: put that information online.' It would seem that Secretary Clinton and the State Department did not get the memo."
More on Clinton and tar sands
Wikileaks Reveals Hushed Concern Over Tar Sands Oil in US State Dept.
Canadian Official Threatens Obama and Clinton With Cutting Off Tar Sands Oil
Young Climate Activists Call On Clinton to Stop Tar Sands Pipeline