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Groups opposed to Keystone XL ask for State Dept. to be removed from approval process

A coalition of groups that oppose the building of the Keystone XL pipeline is calling on President Obama to remove the State Department from the process of deciding whether to approve the project.

In a letter to Obama, the groups argue that the recent revelations that the State Department was working directly with pipeline owner TransCanada to ensure the project’s approval rather than evaluating the application show that the State Department is biased and incapable of being objective.

We are deeply concerned about recently released emails that add to existing indications that your State Department has abdicated its responsibility to evaluate the proposed Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline in an impartial way…

The information contained in the emails is of particular concern given the already existing evidence that the State

Department has not taken seriously its obligation to impartially evaluate the impacts that this pipeline would have on the environment. Last fall, Secretary of State Clinton said she was “inclined” to recommend that you approve a permit for the pipeline, prejudging the environmental review for which her agency was responsible. And in June, the Los Angeles Times reported that documents obtained via WikiLeaks indicate then-State Department employee Goldwyn “alleviated” Canadian officials’ concern that pipeline approval was at risk, and that Goldwyn had provided “messaging” advice to the Canadians to help them undertake a public relations effort that could help with pipeline approval.

Mr. President, given this substantial evidence of pro-industry bias within your administration – evidence that the State

Department was acting in partnership with the oil industry and Canadian government to secure pipeline approval prior to conducting an environmental review – it would be irresponsible for you to follow the State Department’s guidance as you make your determination about whether the pipeline is in the national interest.

Mr. President, when you ran for office, you inspired millions with your call to “change the way that Washington” works by curbing the influence of lobbyists and corporate cash. During your campaign you said, “I am running to tell the lobbyists in Washington that their days of setting the agenda are over.” It is not too late to live up to your promises. Reject this oil lobby influence and ignore the State Department’s biased conclusions. Consider independent experts’ analyses instead.

A final decision on the project is expected before the end of the year.

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