More Lobbyists Found Complicit in Gaining State Dept Approval of Tar Sands Pipeline

The lobbying and cronyism exposed earlier this week regarding the State Department’s review of the proposed Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline intensified today after researchers at the DeSmogBlog found that a broad array of additional pipeline lobbyists have close ties to Secretary of State Clinton.

Earlier this week we reported that emails retrieved under the Freedom of Information Act reveal a cozy relationship between a top Tar Sands lobbyist and the US State Department.

The groups are calling on President Obama to revoke pipeline permitting authority from State Department.

The documents provide definitive evidence that the State Department’s review of TransCanada’s controversial Keystone tar sands pipeline has been irreparably tainted by department employees’ pro-pipeline bias and complicit relationships with industry executives, including an oil lobbyist who was once a top Hillary Clinton campaign aide. 

It became clear today that more lobbyists are involved. As a result, the Freedom of Information Act request is being revised to include a request for interactions with the additional lobbyists.

"The tar sands industry’s use of former Clinton associates to lobby on the controversial project extends beyond Mr. Elliott," DeSmogBlog Executive Director Brendan DeMelle wrote in a memo describing the findings. "Lobbyists with strong ties to Secretary Clinton are spread out over three firms, including one that was the largest single source of funds of any corporate entity to Clinton’s 2008 presidential run."

The groups are asking the State Department to release all documents pertaining to interactions between the department and employees of lobbying firms McKenna Long & Aldridge, Bryan Cave LLP and DLA PIPER, as well as TransCanada. The original FOIA request focused narrowly on interactions with Elliott, TransCanada’s lead Washington, D.C. lobbyist who was formerly a high-ranking Hillary Clinton campaign aide.

One of the lobbyists Maryscott "Scotty" Greenwood, has a reputation for being able to get Secretary of State Clinton on the phone. Two of the lobbyists, Gordon Giffin with McKenna, Long & Aldridge and James Blanchard with DLA PIPER, were fundraising bundlers for Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. DLA PIPER was also the largest single corporate source of employee and PAC contributions to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The campaign connections extend to President Obama. Jeff Berman, a lobbyist listed on Bryan Cave’s Keystone XL lobbying account, was director of delegate selection in Obama’s primary campaign and was called the "unsung hero" of his victory.

"By now it is clear that oil industry influence peddlers rather than scientific facts and public input are driving the State Department," says Damon Moglen, climate and energy director at Friends of the Earth. "While we still have more to learn about the extent of lobbyist influence, it is already clear that President Obama cannot afford to trust the State Department to make the pipeline decision." 

The last hearings on the pipeline are being held in Washington DC.  on October 7.

The DeSmogBlog research is here:

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