Is Hillary Clinton in Cahoots With TransCanada?

| Mon Jan. 31, 2011 2:48 PM EST

Three environmental groups are challenging the denial of a Freedom of Information Act request for records of communication between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the lead lobbyist for the international oil services company TransCanada.

Friends of the Earth, Corporate Ethics International, and the Center for International Environmental Law are seeking a record of all communication between Clinton's office and that of Paul Elliott, who served as the national deputy director in her 2008 campaign and now the top lobbyist for TransCanada.

The connection between the two has drawn scrutiny, since the State Department is evaluating whether to approve TransCanada's proposal for the 1,600-mile Keystone XL pipeline. Clinton raised ire among environmental groups and some senators last fall when she indicated that the pipeline was likely be approved despite the fact that the evaluation of the environmental impact of the proposal is still underway.

The proposed pipeline, which would carry oil from Alberta's tar sands to refineries in Texas, has generated plenty of controversy as the State Department considers whether to approve it. "The disclosure of the requested documents will make a major contribution to the public's understanding of this divisive issue," the groups argue in their latest request.

Meanwhile, a report that TransCanada released last week predicted higher prices in the Midwest for Canadian crude oil—which certainly isn't going to make the pipeline more popular there.

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