By Deb Courson Smith, Big Sky Connection

A trail of emails and other U.S. State Department communications related to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada through Montana and other states shows evidence of possible wrongdoing, either abuse of power or illegal activities. Those are the allegations from several environmental groups calling for an investigation of the pipeline environmental review.

Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, says the project is serious business, and requires an objective assessment, something he says hasn’t happened at the State Department because of bias and insider connections.

“We know that this is a pipeline designed to fail. Pipelines cause oil spills frequently. It’s not a question of whether pipelines will leak and spill; it’s a question of when.”

The letter requesting the investigation also calls on President Obama to order a new environmental assessment of the pipeline. The State Department has not yet issued a statement.

On Nov. 6, Brune says, thousands of people will join hands and encircle the White House to show their objection to the pipeline.

The Natural Resources Defense Council has joined the call for the investigation. Executive Director Frances Beinecke says conflicts of interest uncovered in emails don’t provide peace of mind.

“Farmers, ranchers and business people living along the pipeline route do not want put their communities, their rangelands, and their water supply at risk of pipeline oil spills.”

The League of Conservation Voters and Friends of the Earth are also among the groups calling for the investigation.

See the letter and complete list of groups at foe.org.