Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Emails Trigger Bias Accusations Over Canada To Texas Pipeline

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News.

Opponents of a plan to build a pipeline from the Canadian oil sands to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast say newly released emails show an uncomfortably cozy relationship between a lobbyist and employees at the U.S. State Department.

Friends of the Earth released the emails today and posted them on their website. In one exchange the group describes as a “smoking gun,” the State Department’s Marja Verloop cheers “Go Paul!” when emailing TransCanada lobbyist Paul Elliot to inform him that U.S. Senator Mac Baucus supports the pipeline. The State Department e-mails were released under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Keystone XL pipeline is a $13 billion proposal that would link Alberta’s oil sands fields with processing facilities in the United States. It would terminate in Houston. Supporters say the 1,700 mile pipeline will create jobs and improve North American energy security. Critics say Alberta’s oil sands is “one of the world’s dirtiest fuels”, and that building the pipeline will cause untold environmental damage.

The State Department said in an environmental impact statement released in August that the Keystone XL Pipeline poses little environmental risk if it’s properly managed.  

In part because of the controversial nature of the pipeline, the State Department has been hosting public forums on it's construction across the United States. One in Austin last month was dominated by organized labor groups who touted expected job benefits from pipeline construction.

One person who said he attended the forum commented on that union members showed up hours before the meeting began to secure an early place in the queue, and “seemed to be better aware of the details of how the [public forum] was operating.”

More coverage:

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.