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NEWS: E-mails reveal a pro-Keystone XL bias by US State Dept.

The New York Times reports, “A State Department official provided Fourth of July party invitations, subtle coaching and cheerleading, and inside information about Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton’s meetings to a Washington lobbyist for a Canadian company seeking permission from the department to build a pipeline that would carry crude from the oil sands of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. E-mails released Monday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the environmental group Friends of the Earth paint a picture of a sometimes warm and collaborative relationship between the lobbyist for the pipeline company, Trans-Canada, and officials in the State Department, the agency responsible for evaluating and approving the billion-dollar project.”

“(The e-mails) also offer insight into the company’s strategy, not revealed publicly before. TransCanada lobbyists exchanged e-mails with State Department officials in July about their intention to drop their request to operate the Keystone XL pipeline at higher pressures than normally allowed in the United States to win political support, but then suggested they would reapply for the exception once the project had been cleared.”

“TransCanada’s chief Washington lobbyist is Paul Elliott, a top official in Mrs. Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. All of the documents pertain to contacts between Mr. Elliott and government officials. …Many of the e-mails released Monday are between Mr. Elliott and Marja Verloop, the counselor for energy and environment at the United States Embassy in Ottawa.”

“The State Department is tasked with granting permission, according to the ‘national interest’, for pipelines that cross national borders and is weighing the environmental impact of Keystone XL against the benefit of expanding the fuel supply for the United States. Its third and final environmental impact statement, released in late August, said the pipeline would have ‘limited adverse environmental impacts’ if operated according to regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency, which may offer comments on such pipelines but is not empowered to rule on their authorization, sharply criticized the State Department’s previous environmental assessments as inadequate but has not yet weighed in on the August report.”

In late-August, the Council of Canadians countered the three main points in the State Department’s final environmental impact statement, that’s at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=10140.

“A final decision on the pipeline is expected by the end of the year.”

For more on the campaign against the Keystone XL pipeline, please see http://canadians.org/blog/?s=keystone.