Environmental group Friends of the Earth (FOE) last week sued the State Department for access to communications between it and lobbyists promoting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, two of whom were prominent fundraisers for the 2008 presidential campaign of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to allgov.com.
That project, in which Canadian oil company TransCanada wants to build nearly 2,000 miles of pipeline to carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico, requires a presidential permit from the State Department. FOE originally filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the materials in 2010.
Two of the lobbyists named in the FOIA request, Gordon Giffin of McKenna, Long & Aldridge, and James Blanchard of DLA Piper, were fundraising bundlers for Clinton’s presidential bid, and DLA Piper was the largest single corporate source of employee and PAC contributions to her campaign, the website said. “Both Blanchard and Giffin served as U.S. Ambassador to Canada under President Bill Clinton, Blanchard from 1993-1997 and Giffin from 1997-2001,” it added.
According to allgov.com, a third pipeline lobbyist, Paul Elliott, worked on Clinton’s campaign as national deputy director and chief of staff for delegate selection.
Although the Obama administration recently rejected the permit, TransCanada is preparing a new permit application, leading Damon Moglen, climate and energy project director at FOE, to explain the continued relevance of the request: “The communications we seek are key to ensuring that the State Department isn’t letting lobbyists’ personal connections to Secretary Clinton or President Obama bias its decision-making.”