State Department denies request for quick release of lobbyist documents; appeal filed
WASHINGTON – April 26 – The State Department has denied Friends of the Earth’s request for expedited release of internal documents that could shed light on the web of lobbyists TransCanada and the Province of Alberta have hired in order to fast track approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Friends of the Earth today filed a formal appeal.
Earlier this month, Friends of the Earth filed a broad Freedom of Information Act request for all communications between State Department officials and lobbyists for TransCanada and the Province of Alberta. The FOIA request identifies more than two dozen Washington lobbyists, lawyers and consultants helping to push for pipeline approval who have close ties to President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, former Secretary of State Clinton and other elected officials with a stake in the outcome. Among those are former White House communications director Anita Dunn and three former U.S. ambassadors to Canada.
In a letter dated April 19, the State Department asserted that Friends of the Earth’s request did not meet the criteria for expedited processing, even though the State Department is likely to sign off on the environmental review for the pipeline within a few months.
Ross Hammond, senior campaigner with Friends of the Earth, had this to say regarding the State Department’s reply.
“Something stinks in Foggy Bottom. One has to wonder what exactly the State Department is hiding.
“Given what we already know about the role of former Kerry and Obama staffers in lobbying for the Keystone pipeline, and the efforts State Department officials have made to hide the relationship between firms conducting the environmental review and TransCanada, it’s clear that the public interest would be best served by expediting our request for these documents. The longer the State Department delays turning over these documents, the harder it will be for the public to know the truth about what is really going on behind the scenes at the State Department before President Obama makes this momentous decision.”
Friends of the Earth is the U.S. voice of the world’s largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 77 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has fought to create a more healthy, just world.