Whether Approved Or Not, Keystone XL Has Been A Victory For Lobbyists

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For the past six years, lobbyists in Washington have made a killing shilling either for or against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.  And with no clear end in sight, the folks on K Street will continue to see a flurry of cash headed in their direction.

During last year’s heated presidential race, groups spent close to $16 million directly related to the Keystone XL pipeline, with most of that money coming from industry and other proponents of the pipeline.  While opponents of the pipeline spent a few million last year – with at least one million pledged this year to fight against KXL – the lion’s share of the money spent on lobbying comes from the dirty energy industry.

Bloomberg reported the following on how intense the lobbying showdown has been in recent years:

In all, lobbyists representing more than 50 groups are engaged on the issue and about $1 million has been spent in television ads in 2013 alone, following expenditures of almost $16 million during last year’s election season…

The swarm of lobbyists are targeting a small group of policy makers at the U.S. State Department – and ultimately President Barack Obama, who will make the decision in the coming months…

At the end of June, 54 companies and interest groups reported lobbying on the project, including TransCanada, Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), the League of Conservation Voters and Laborers’ International Union of North America, according to disclosure reports filed with the U.S. Senate. That’s up slightly from 50 at the end of March.

Keystone opponents have stuck mostly to online ads and in-person protests and events, but Bloomberg says that the heavy hitters – the American Petroleum Institute and TransCanada – have been able to buy television ads in areas all over the country to tout the many “benefits” of the pipeline.

The lobbying blitz has had a noticeable impact on public opinion, as approval for the project hit as high as 70% earlier this year.  But the support can be attributed to the fact that Americans are being inundated with misinformation about the pipeline.

As we’ve reported numerous times, the Keystone XL pipeline will feature a dangerously inadequate monitoring systemnot lower U.S. energy prices – it will actually cause them to rise; and it will create only 35 permanent jobs for this country.  But corporate lobbying money has been more than effective at keeping those facts hidden from the public.

The ugly truth about the pipeline has been buried under millions of dollars worth of industry lobbying and advertising money.  And no matter what the final decision is from Washington, there’s no denying that the lobbyists have already won this battle, and they’re laughing all the way to the bank.

Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine, and his articles have appeared on The Huffington Post, Alternet, and The Progressive Magazine. He has worked for the Ring of Fire radio program with hosts Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Mike Papantonio, and Sam Seder since August 2004, and is currently the co-host and producer of the program. He also currently serves as the co-host of Ring of Fire on Free Speech TV, a daily program airing nightly at 8:30pm eastern. Farron received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of West Florida in 2005 and became a member of American MENSA in 2009.  Follow him on Twitter @farronbalanced.

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