Just weeks before being hired as President Donald Trump‘s top White House energy adviser, Mike Catanzaro was paid by TransCanada to advocate for the Keystone XL pipeline.
Lobbying for his old employer, CGCN Group, disclosure forms reviewed by DeSmog reveal that a team of lobbyists including Catanzaro advocated for “Policy issues and executive branch approval of the Keystone pipeline.” TransCanada paid Catanzaro and the CGCN team $90,000 for their work during the first quarter of 2017. The Trump administration recently gave the Canadian energy company the green light to build the long-contested cross-border pipeline, which will carry tar sands from Alberta, Canada, to Cushing, Oklahoma.
During the first quarter of 2017 before taking the Trump administration job, Catanzaro also lobbied on behalf of oil and gas industry companies such as Encana, Devon Energy, Noble Energy, and American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM). Catanzaro, as The New York Times reported, is now working on many of the same issues for the federal government which were the subject of his lobbying efforts at CGCN Group.
Credit: U.S. House Office of the Clerk
In the lobbyist update section of the disclosure form, CGCN describes Catanzaro as someone “who is no longer expected to act as a lobbyist for the client,” signifying he would soon be departing to work in the Trump White House. Many of the same individuals who in the past have passed through the Republican government-industry revolving door, as previously reported by DeSmog, are now replacing their Democratic Party counterparts who lobbied for Keystone XL during the Obama era.
Joining Catanzaro in lobbying for Keystone XL at CGCN were his colleagues Steve Clark, Gary Lytle, Sam Geduldig, Mike Nielsen, Jay Cranford, Doug Schwartz, John Stipicevic, Amy Wren, Juliane Sullivan, and Katie Mitchell. That list includes eight out of 14 lobbyists employed by the firm.
All of them except for Lytle and Clark, the lobbying disclosure form points out, formerly worked for Republican Party congressional members. Wren and Cranford formerly worked for the George W. Bush administration. Stipicevic departed from his job working for House Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Meanwhile, Alex Oehler, another former GOP congressional staffer, now lobbies in-house for TransCanada and also advocates for Keystone XL.
“Catanzaro’s appointment as a key Trump administration energy and climate adviser so soon after he served as a fossil fuel lobbyist is an outrageous conflict of interest,” said Tyson Slocum, energy program director for Public Citizen, a progressive consumer rights nonprofit. “Far from draining the swamp, Trump’s promotion of an inside-the-Beltway lobbyist to run national energy policy smacks of special interest giveaways for well-connected corporations.”
Main image: Pipes for Keystone XL in Nebraska. Credit: shannonpatrick17, CC BY 2.0