The State Department is reviewing more than 1.2 million public comments submitted on a draft environmental assessment of the planned Keystone XL pipeline. TransCanada wants to build a section of the pipeline from Alberta and needs federal permission for a section crossing the U.S.-Canadian border.
Advocacy group Rainforest Action Network said 60 people were arrested Monday during a protest in front of the State Department in Washington. Along with social change network CREDO, the group said it was upset an inspector general found the pipeline assessment's contractor, Environmental Resources Management, had ties to TransCanada.
"The State Department has been working to determine what's in the oil industry's interest, not what's in the national interest," CREDO Political Director Becky Bond said in a statement.
Marie Harf, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said the review was transparent but brushed off references to the conflict of interest. She said the department has been transparent regarding the public review, saying she needed to determine what facts could be released publicly.
"I think transparency refers to a couple of things, but one of which is that the public is able to be a part of the process," she told reporters Monday. "We've been transparent about how the process will work."
TransCanada denied there was a conflict of interest with ERM.