Greens demand State hand over Keystone docs

An environmental group is demanding the State Department fork over all of its communications over changes that were made to the final Keystone XL pipeline environmental impact review.

Friends of the Earth filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on Monday over a correction the State Department made in its final environmental analysis on the controversial pipeline.

ADVERTISEMENT
The change reflected a substantial increase in the number of deaths that could be caused if Keystone is rejected. The revision said that State now estimates 18 to 30 people would be killed each year from the increase in oil shipments by rail without construction of the pipeline. Earlier estimates had said six deaths but that was under a three-month period.

Friends of the Earth called the statistics "highly questionable" and wants to know what prompted the change. They are asking for all staff communications over a five-month span. 

"More questionable still is what prompted the State Department to update these particular numbers while neglecting numbers that show how Keystone XL would catalyze an increase in emissions," said Luisa Abbot Galvao of Friends of the Earth.

In the final impact review, the department said Keystone XL would not significantly contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, a finding that hasn't sat well with environmentalists.

Friends of the Earth wants all records between State's staff and lobbyists or other individuals representing pipeline developer TransCanada, and Environmental Resources Management, the contractor that worked on the final environmental review.

Its request asks for all of the communication, contracts or agreements made between State and TransCanada from January to June of this year.

It also asks for documents on the oil rail analysis, greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation measures compiled in the same time period.

Advocates of the pipeline argue the State Department has conducted multiple environmental impact reviews that support building the pipeline.

State is currently waiting for Nebraska's Supreme Court to hear a challenge to the pipeline's route through the state before Secretary of State John Kerry decides whether Keystone is in the nation's best interest.

The legal holdup puts off any decision by President Obama on Keystone until well after the midterm elections and into next year.