Environmental groups are going after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, worried that she's allowing Washington lobbyists close to her get away with building a massive oil pipeline from Canada to Texas.
Friends of the Earth, a nonprofit with offices in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, is one of the many groups suing Clinton to try and get e-mails and other correspondence between Clinton and Paul Elliott, her former deputy director of her 2008 presidential campaign.
They want those exchanges because her relationship with Elliott, who is now the lobbyist working on the Keystone XL pipeline project, could play a significant role in whether the pipeline is built or not.
Elliott currently works for TransCanada Pipelines Limited, which is trying to build an oil pipeline to transport crude oil from Canada to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast. But before building the pipeline, the company would have to get a permit from the U.S. State Department since it would be crossing borders.
According to the lawsuit, Clinton stated on Oct. 15., 2010, that she was "inclined to approve the Keystone XL project." Environmentalists claim she made this statement out of the blue and even before her own department had concluded environmental studies. They concluded that Clinton's relationship with Elliott might "inappropriately influence" a favorable decision on the project.
Since January, the plaintiffs have asked for Clinton to turn over communications she had with Elliott via the Freedom of Information Act, however, the State Department has yet to release the records. Now, environmentalists are asking the courts to force Clinton to turn over the communications she has had with Elliott -- and they want it now. The timing is imperative, since the comment period for the environmental report ends June 6, 2011.
At that time the State Department will then decide whether to issue the permit for the project.
"Clearly, TransCanada hired Mr. Elliott to take advantage of his
previous service to Hillary Clinton," said Kenny Bruno, speaking for
Corporate Ethics International, told The New York Times. "We think the public has a right to know
in what ways TransCanada and Mr. Elliott have attempted to influence