Emails released in a FOIA request show that the Obama administration is biased towards getting the Keystone XL Pipeline built. I’ve been covering Keystone XL for a few months (see all my posts, here). I used to believe the pipeline will get the green light. Now I suspect it will be delayed for political reasons, probably to face a Round II review during Obama’s 2nd term. It most certainly will pass if a republican (Chris Christie?) is elected.
Above: Official map of the Keystone Pipeline XL, from the U.S. Department of State. The State department has dedicated a special website, www.keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov, dedicated just to the controversial pipeline plan. The pipe will flow oil sand crude from Canada all the way to Texas. This oil be sold in international markets, not U.S. markets. The project is now under review by the EPA, and a decision will be made at the end of the year to approve, reject, or alter the plan. If you haven’t heard, about 100 protesters, some famous, have been arrested in acts of civil disobedience this past weekend at the White House.
Here’s what the NYTimes broke this morning:
Environmental groups said the e-mails were disturbing and evidence of “complicity” between TransCanada, the pipeline company, and American officials tasked with evaluating the pipeline’s environmental impact.
The e-mails, the second batch to be released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the environmental group Friends of the Earth, show a senior State Department official at the United States Embassy in Ottawa procuring invitations to Fourth of July parties for TransCanada officials, sharing information with the company about Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s meetings and cheering on TransCanada in its quest to gain approval of the giant pipeline, which could carry 700,000 barrels a day.
“You see officials who see it as their business not to be an oversight agency but as a facilitator of TransCanada’s plans,” said Damon Moglen, the director of climate and energy project for Friends of the Earth. While the e-mails refer to multiple meetings between TransCanada officials and assistant secretaries of state, he said, such access was denied to environmental groups seeking input. Environmental groups argue that the pipeline, known as the Keystone XL project, would result in unacceptably high emissions and disrupt pristine ecosystems.
Before he was TransCanada’s chief Washington, D.C., lobbyist, Paul Elliott was a top official in Mrs. Clinton’s failed 2008 presidential campaign.
Many of the new e-mails are between Mr. Elliott and Marja Verloop, the counselor for energy and environment at the embassy in Ottawa. On Sept. 10, 2010, in response to an e-mail from Mr. Elliot announcing that Senator Max Baucus was supporting the pipeline, Ms. Verloop wrote: “Go Paul!” In an e-mail to David Jacobson, United States ambassador to Canada, she described TransCanada as “comfortable and on board” with some developments in the review process.”
Officials deny that the emails show bias.