WASHINGTON - The latest WikiLeaks document dump is relevant to the controversy over pending U.S. State Department approval of construction of TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada's tar sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast and points between.
The relevant document implies that a previously confidential diplomatic cable sent to President Barack Obama raised new concerns about the effects of tarsands oil on the environment.
Several environmental groups, including BOLD Nebraska and Friends of the Earth, have criticized Canada's tarsands oil production program. If approved by the United States government, tarsands oil would be transported from Canada to Texas through Keystone XL.
Critics of the pipeline argue a leak would endanger the Ogallala Aquifer which provides much needed water for agriculture and nearly 80 percent of Nebraska's drinking water.
According to the January 2009 cable sent by Terry Breese, the man in charge of the U.S. embassy in Ottawa, the environmental impact of the oil is in question. Breese writes, "There is keen sensitivity over the higher environmental footprint of oil from western Canada's oil sands."
Friends of the Earth is arguing the cable contradicts recent comments from U.S. officials including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has final say over the pipeline and who has indicated she is leaning toward approval.
In a news release, Friends of the Earth says the cable’s "candid admission of the impacts of tar sands oil production, which results in three times more global warming pollution than production of conventional oil, differs markedly from the description of tar sands oil given by the State Department in public documents."