MAY 23, 2011
Details surrounding the State Department’s expected approval of a controversial oil pipeline are being kept secret in an apparent effort to conceal impropriety created by the tight knit relationship between Hillary Clinton and the lobbyist pushing the multi billion-dollar project.The Secretary of State must approve the permit for the Canada-to-Texas pipeline, known as Keystone XL, which will span nearly 2,000 miles and transport around 1 million barrels of heavy crude oil daily across six states. Predicting opposition from environmental groups, the Canadian company behind the mega project hired one of Clinton’s national campaign directors (Paul Elliott) as its chief lobbyist.The tactic has been quite effective because Clinton indicated that she would approve Keystone XL long before the completion of a federally required environmental impact statement. Incredibly, her support hasn’t wavered in the aftermath of a preliminary Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report that gives the pipeline project the lowest possible ranking.A coalition of environmental groups has joined forces to obtain details on the influence that the Clinton-Elliott relationship has had in the matter. Using federal public records laws the groups requested all correspondence between the politically-connected lobbyist and State Department officials considering the pipeline permit, including Clinton.In an apparent stall tactic, the agency denied the request claiming that it was “invalid” because it didn’t specify a time frame. The groups appealed and the State Department agreed to open a new request, noting that “unusual circumstances” may arise that could require “additional time to process” the new request. If the Obama Administration, which has promised unprecedented transparency, ever makes the information public, it probably won’t do so until the pipeline is half built.Last week the groups filed a lawsuit against Clinton and the State Department to obtain the records that could prove impropriety. In their complaint the nonprofits assert that the information they are seeking directly relates to whether the relationship between Elliott and Secretary Clinton might inappropriately influence the State Department’s decision to grant or deny the pipeline permit.The groups claim the transcontinental pipeline poses “massive environmental risks” and significant public health dangers that are being concealed from the public. One of the attorneys for the environmental coalition rightfully points out that refusing to provide records on the approval process “raises important questions of transparency and fairness.” Keep in mind that these are liberals who undoubtedly support this administration.
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