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Obama campaign angers enviros by hiring former lobbyist for Keystone pipeline

October 25th, 2011

From Green Right Now Reports

The Obama 2012 campaign organization angered opponents of the Keystone Pipeline XL Monday with the public announcement it has hired a former lobbyist for the pipeline, which would carry environmentally damaging tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to refineries in Texas.

Broderick Johnson

The campaign hired Broderick Johnson, who previously worked for the lobbying firm Bryan Cave LLP, and in 2010 pushed for presidential approval for the Keystone project.

Bryan Cave LLP reportedly earned more than $1 million in 2009-2010 lobbying for the project on behalf of pipeline operator TransCanada.

Environmentalists are fighting the pipeline because tar sands extraction is devastating Canadian forests, worsening carbon air pollution and could damage agricultural land and water supplies in the U.S.. They point to leakage problems at another TransCanada Canadian-U.S. pipeline completed in 2010, which has leaked more than 12 times.

Environmental leader Bill McKibben, quoted in Climate Progress, called the move by the Obama campaign an insult to the environmental community.

“I don’t think you could conceive a more elaborate way to disrespect not just the environmental community but also Occupy Wall Street, because this is simply a reminder of the way that corporate lobbyists dominate our politics…  Forget ‘Hope and Change’ — it’s like they want their new slogan to be ‘Business as Usual.’ “

Friends of the Earth campaigner Kim Huynh had this to say:

“President Obama ran for office in 2008 promising that the days of lobbyists setting the agenda in Washington were over, yet now he’s hired a top oil pipeline lobbyist into his campaign,” Huynh said. “This is a deeply troubling development. A lobbyist who has taken corporate cash to shill for this dirty and dangerous pipeline now has even more opportunity to whisper into the President’s ear.”

Tar sands (Photo: Pembina Institute)

Huynh, the “dirty fuels manager” for FOE, has been working to bring to light more information about how TransCanada has worked to win influence at the U.S. State Department, which must approve or deny the pipeline permit, and earlier filed this Freedom of Information request with the support of FOE, Corporate Ethics International and the Center for International Environmental Law.

Lobbyist filings show that Johnson lobbied on Capitol Hill, at the State Department and the White House for “submission for a presidential permit for Keystone XL Pipeline.”

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