Clinton asked to step aside on pipeline

Nov. 5, 2010 at 10:37 AM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should recuse herself from the permitting process for an oil pipeline for Canadian oil sands, advocates say.

Commercial deliveries of crude oil to the U.S. Midwest from the Keystone pipeline from Canada started during the last week of June. TransCanada, the operator of the pipeline, said the U.S. leg of the pipeline includes more than 1,000 miles of new pipe to northern and Midwest states.

Lawmakers after the start-up complained to Clinton that, while tar sand pipelines like Keystone could increase oil deliveries to U.S. markets substantially, the environmental risk was too great.

Clinton told an audience in San Francisco, however, that Washington had important oil decisions to make while the U.S. economy was dependent on foreign oil.

"We're either going to be dependent on dirty oil from the (Persian) Gulf or dirty oil from Canada," she said.

Led by the environmental advocacy group Friends of Earth, the heads of several environmental, consumer and legal affairs organizations called on Clinton to step aside during the permitting process for the Keystone pipeline.

"As the State Department's review is ongoing, it is inappropriate for you to make statements about what final decision you are 'inclined' to make," the leaders wrote. "The decision about whether or not to permit this pipeline is a key environmental decision for this administration, yet your recent comments make it clear that you are biased."

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