State Dept. Sides with Big Oil and Approves Keystone XL Pipeline

The State Department’s review of the tar sands pipeline has been tainted from the start. Early on Secretary Clinton let slip that she was inclined to support the pipeline despite the fact that the State Dept. review and environmental impact analysis had barely just begun.

Then there was this:

But a report created by DeSmogBlog Executive Director Brendan DeMelle points out that a former Clinton campaign aid is now working for TransCanada as a lobbyist. That lobbyist, Paul Elliott, once served as Clinton’s national deputy campaign director and was responsible for strengthening ties with influential Democratic governors back in 2008.

Many in the environmental community say the Clinton-Elliott connection is inappropriate. In 2010, Clinton said she was “inclined” to give the KeystoneXL project a thumbs-up.

In 2010, the State Department rejected a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking to know if Clinton and Elliott had contacted one another about the pipeline last fall. In February 2011, the State Department accepted a similar FOIA request made by Friends of the Earth but failed to meet the deadline to respond.

This is the information, or lack of it, is what spurred the current lawsuit along with requests for Clinton to recuse herself from the approval process. Currently, the State Department is reviewing the project, sifting through thousands of public comments and completing an environmental impact statement.

It just looks bad. Environmental groups will likely sue yet again and on this issue, I don’t blame them.

On the environmental impact statement just released by the State Dept:

The Obama administration gave a crucial green light on Friday to a proposed 1,711-mile pipeline that would carry heavy oil from Canada across the Great Plains to terminals in Oklahoma and the Gulf Coast, saying the project would provide a secure source of energy without significant damage to the environment.

In reaching its conclusion that the Keystone XL pipeline from the oil sands deposits in Alberta would have minimal environmental impact, the administration dismissed criticism from environmental advocates, who said that extracting the oil would have a devastating impact on the climate and that a leak or rupture in the 36-inch-diameter pipeline could wreak ecological disaster. Opponents also said the project would prolong the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels, threaten sensitive lands and wildlife and further delay development of clean energy sources.


For many in the environmental movement, the administration’s apparent acceptance of the pipeline was yet another disappointment, after recent decisions to tentatively approve drilling in the Arctic Ocean, to open 20 million more acres of the Gulf of Mexico for oil leasing and to delay several major air quality regulations. The movement is still smarting from the administration’s failure to push climate change legislation through Congress.

Analysts and environmental advocates said these decisions had opened a wide and perhaps unbridgeable breach between the Democratic president and environmentally minded voters.

It was big oil vs. the environment and big oil won. No surprise there.

Time and time again this administration has a chance to stand up and take action on issues it professes to support, only to turn around and consistently side with the usual suspects- the banks, the lobby, the pollution industry and on and on. As far as I can tell, this administration is long on rhetoric and short on results. Does the Obama administration stand for anything other than the monied, connected status quo? This administration has no real environmental policy or plan to decrease our dependence on petroleum. Opening up national reserves and turning to Canada for help is not a solution to our long term energy problems.

Yes, the pipeline will create jobs but it’s no substitute for an actual jobs creation program. Lets not kid ourselves, no matter what the administration says, this pipeline isn’t being approved because of jobs- it’s being approved because we are addicted to dirty energy, corporate lobbyists and Big Oil.

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About Stacy

Attorney, Publisher, Foreign Policy wonk

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3 Comments on “State Dept. Sides with Big Oil and Approves Keystone XL Pipeline”

  1. discourseincsharpminor Says:

    It’s the Golden Rule all over again – he who has the gold makes the rules.


    • Stacy Says:

      Yeah. I really am not blaming this all on Hillary and I don’t think the stuff about her campaign fundraiser guy had anything to do with it but I do think it was all about big oil and lobbyists. The Obama admin. will justify it saying it will create jobs but absent a real jobs program, that’s just sort of an empty rationalization. I think this decision wouldn’t be so frustrating if the Obama administration weren’t so bad on every other issue. There’s really nothing they’ve done which I would define as “progressive” in any real sense of the word.


  2. Lawrence MacDonald Says:

    Great post! We need to start asking media writing about the State Department report to include discussion of Paul Elliott’s role. This really stinks!!


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