WASHINGTON, June 12 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department is withholding evidence from its draft assessment of the planned Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada, the Sierra Club says.
The Sierra Club announced it filed a lawsuit against the State Department regarding a federal review of the controversial pipeline. It said there may be evidence to suggest a conflict of interest with Environmental Resources Management, the party contracted to conduct a review of the pipeline.
The Sierra Club said industry group the American Petroleum Institute is tied to ERM. API is a strong advocate of the Keystone XL pipeline.
"It appears that the State Department not only failed to properly screen the consultant, Environmental Resources Management, for conflicts of interest, but attempted to conceal ties to the oil industry by redacting ERM staff bios on documents posted on state's website," Sierra Club attorney Devorah Ancel said in a statement Tuesday.
API and ERM didn't issue a public comment about the allegations. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told The Huffington Post the screening process for contractors was "rigorous."
The State Department's review says some of the pollution tied to the production of oil sands, the type of crude oil designated for Keystone XL, would occur with or without the pipeline. It said rail deliveries of crude oil should be considered, however, when weighing the pipeline's national interest.
A federal permit is needed for the cross-border pipeline. It would carry oil from Canada to U.S. refineries along the southern gulf coast.