More emails released between TransCanada and State Department

More emails released between TransCanada and State Department

The environmental group Friends of the Earth released more emails between the U.S. State Department and TransCanada that they say shows a “smoking gun” proving an unethical relationship between the two.

The State Department is tasked with deciding whether to grant a permit to build the proposed pipeline, which would carry tar sands crude oil from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast of the United States. But rather than evaluating that application, key officials seem to be cheerleading the project and working with the company to ensure approval.

We have received a new round of documents from the State Department in response to our Freedom of Information Act request. These documents are deeply disturbing in that they provide definitive evidence of pro-pipeline bias and complicity at the State Department — including one “smoking gun” email in which State Department employee Marja Verloop literally cheers “Go Paul!” for pipeline lobbyist Paul Elliott after he announces TransCanada has secured Senator Max Baucus’ support for the pipeline.

The most interesting emails in this tranche are between Elliott and Verloop, a member of the senior diplomatic staff at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, with responsibility for energy and environment issues. In one back and forth, Elliott and Verloop discuss TransCanada’s July 2010 decision to abandon its efforts to obtain special permission to pump oil through the Keystone XL at higher-than-usual pressures.The same exchange contains a reference to reassurances from the State side that the 90-day review would “delay…State’s recommendation of a presidential permit but such a delay won’t be as long as the one advocated for by the EPA.”

The EPA has been strongly critical of the Environmental Impact Statements that the State Dept. has produced, saying that they ignore significant environmental risks. President Obama is expected to make a final decision on the project soon.