Pols, Lobbyists Cash in on Keystone

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January 15, 2015
Pols, Lobbyists Cash in on Keystone

Crude has yet to flow through the proposed $5.4 billion Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the U.S., but as the Senate prepares for its second vote on the 1,179-mile project later this month, interest groups have sent hundreds of millions of dollars to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

“With the prospects of the GOP takeover this year, which in fact happened, and Keystone being one of the major if not the major to-do item on the list, I would say the pressure’s very high,” says Nancy Watzman, a consultant to the Sunlight Foundation, which tracks money in politics.

The oil and gas industry, environmental groups, construction groups and building trade unions gave more than $232.3 million to lawmakers last year alone, according to data compiled by OpenSecrets, which analyzes political spending. And that doesn’t include the $154.4 million they spent on lobbying, a figure that itself excludes money spent on so-called “strategic advisors” and other influence peddlers who are not required to publicly report their contracts or income – let alone outside expenditures by super PACs.

“The amount of money that’s been spent is just astronomical,” says political science professor Jim Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University.

And all that cash has helped make Keystone XL priority No. 1 for Republicans in Congress – and, for the project’s Democratic opponents, public enemy No. 1. Having taken control of the Senate, GOP lawmakers have pledged to finally pass a bill allowing construction of the controversial pipeline, which has been vigorously opposed by environmentalists and stalled for six years awaiting White House approval.

[Article Source: USNEWS]

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