If you haven’t yet heard about the Keystone XL Pipeline currently under consideration by the U.S. Government, here’s a quick overview.
Canada’s tar sands are 54,826 square miles of mineral-filled sands, including a high density of a naturally occurring form of petroleum. These tar sands are the second biggest source of crude oil IN THE WORLD after Saudi Arabia (!). The U.S. government is currently considering permitting the development of a pipeline called the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would transport Canadian oil from the tar sands to American refineries on the Gulf Coast, primarily for export. Not only will the development of this pipeline disrupt countless eco-systems and indigenous communities in the region of the tar sands in Canada, but it will also increase the risk for severe oil spills on American territory and will endanger communities in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas. Above all, to produce just one barrel of crude oil from the tar sands requires between TWO and FOUR barrels of oil. NASA’s top scientist has said that the implementation of this Pipeline would mean “essentially game over” for the climate. That $6 billion investment could do so many better things than solidifying our dependence on fossil fuels.
Here’s the scandal. In December, 2010, the environmental organization Friends of the Earth discovered a potential conflict of interest. The primary lobbyist of TransCanada, the company responsible for the Keystone XL pipeline, is Paul Elliott, who just so happens to have been a high-ranking aide on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. And, because this particular project crosses a state border, the decision about its implementation is within the purview of the State Department (a.k.a. HILLARY CLINTON). When this relationship was discovered, Friends of the Earth requested a release of the correspondence between the oil lobbyist and the State Department under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). While the State Department initially denied this request, when a few watchdog groups sued them for non-compliance with the FOIA, the State Department finally gave in, and released the correspondence. The series of e-mails released highlight a pretty outrageous exchange between the oil lobbyist and staffers for the State Department, showing that Paul Elliott was repeatedly given strategic lobbying advice from State Dept. insiders, including suggestions on what to say based on internal discussions. If you enjoy the idea of sneaking around in formerly top-secret government correspondence that shows just a snippet of revolving door corruption… check it out
(Also, look at a former post on this blog to learn about what one of America’s foremost climate activists is doing about the Pipeline, and what you might be able to do to help.)