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Map of Keystone XL route
Jim Synder reports:
TransCanada Corp. (TRP), the Calgary-based company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, spent $1.05 million to lobby Congress and the administration last year, about 24 percent more than it spent in 2012, records filed with the U.S. Senate show. [...]

Its chief Washington lobbyist, Paul Elliott, is a former top campaign aide to Hillary Clinton, who served as Secretary of State in President Barack Obama’s first term.

“While TransCanada has been operating in the U.S. for decades, the Keystone XL project is the first time where our activities have become the focus of activist campaigns,” Shawn Howard, a company spokesman, said in an e-mail. “We have hired lawyers and outside experts to help us provide informed opinions about legislation that may impact any part of our operations.”

There wasn't a breakdown of how much of that lobbying money was spent specifically to spur approval of the 1,179-mile, $5.4 billion northern leg of the 36-inch diameter Keystone XL pipeline and how much for natural gas projects that TransCanada is involved with.

The State Department is said to be on the cusp of releasing its final environmental impact statement on the final leg of the pipeline. Jack Gerard, CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, an oil industry lobbying group that has backed Keystone XL from the beginning, said in an interview last week that he thinks the report might be out as early as Thursday. He cited unnamed administration sources. Ten days ago Secretary of State John Kerry said announcement of State's review and recommendation will be "soon."

The pipeline would carry diluted bitumen from the tar sands of Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska, where it would connect to the already built pipeline running from Steele City to the Cushing, Oklahoma, pipeline. From Cushing, the southern leg of Keystone XL runs to Nederland, Texas, near the refineries of the Gulf Coast. That last section, which the president fast-tracked in March 2012, began carrying crude oil last week.

Once the State Department releases its environmental review, federal agencies have a mandated 90 days to weigh in. Then, under the provisions of an executive order with its origins in the 1960s that governs cross-boundary pipelines, tunnels and bridges, President Obama must decide whether building the pipeline meets the U.S. "national interest." He has said that decision will depend on whether building the pipeline would have a negative impact on climate change by increasing carbon emissions.

Mixed signals might be the best way to characterize the administration's public stance on the matter. One of the most recent signals dismayed eco-activists, who have been fighting the pipeline for years. In November, the State Department approved a project to convert an existing pipeline so it can carry natural gas across the Canadian border to the tar sands fields. Once there, the natural gas will be turned into condensate and used to thin the ultra-thick bitumen so that it can be easily transported as dilbit, or diluted bitumen.

To get a thorough look at one of several drawbacks approval of Keystone XL could mean, a good read is Inside Climate News's Pulitzer prize-winning series, now in book form, The Dilbit Disaster: Inside the Biggest Oil Spill You Never Heard of.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 10:40 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  thank you, wanted to get the book, (8+ / 0-)

    but it's only available in a kindle edition. I keep that diary for the record to give to our producers. Thanks.

  •  Public gets another opportunity to comment too (13+ / 0-)

    during the National interest determination period for agencies.

    We held blogathons last comment periods, and will do the same for this comment period. Comments are very important in this regulatory process because the government actually has to read them. Also, two years ago, President Obama rejected GOP demands by citing the over 1 million comments received opposing the pipeline when Obama rejected the XL. DK had a role in those 1 million comments that were obtained by the hard work of around 6 eco NGOS who we joined in a coalition for blogathons. Every comment counts...when specific and not just a copy of a form comment.

  •  That's odd. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I remember someone here arguing TransCanada were giving  up on the XL because it was becoming economically untenable.  Doesn't sound like it.  Guess the diarist was wrong.

    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

    by accumbens on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 10:58:58 AM PST

  •  So is "$1.05 million to lobby (11+ / 0-)

    Congress and the administration" in the national interest?

    Really, the only thing we have to fight against all the oil money is people power...


    Ecology is the new Economy => Kosonomy

    by citisven on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 11:00:05 AM PST

    •  People Power! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Puddytat, Eric Nelson

      I Predict A Renewed Wave Of Political Activism In 2014 ♥ A Very Busy New Year

      Occupy Spectra NYC Aug 11, 2012 Occupy and NYC residents out in force to oppose the construction of an explosive pipeline that proposes to deliver radon-infested fracked gas from the Marcellus.

      big energy, is trying to build these gas pipelines all over the country.

      To link all the states, Down from Canada to the East Coast, to the West Coast, Texas, Oklahoma, etc and back up to Canada.

      In other words, big energy plans on putting gas and other fossil fuel pipelines everywhere in the US!

      Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

      by rebel ga on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 07:28:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Been saying for a long time. It will be approved. (6+ / 0-)

    Follow the money.

  •  Excellent article, thank you. I recommend also (5+ / 0-)

    Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent

    Some info on BITUMEN

    Unlike light oil, bitumen contains a host of contaminants, including sulfur, salts, nitrogen, clays, asphaltenes, resins, and heavy metals such as nickel and vanadium. As one example, Western Canadian Crude, a poor-quality feedstock made from bitumen, synthetic crude, and light oil, has a sulfur content eight times greater than that of high-quality Texas oil. North American refineries, built to handle light oils, have raised numerous concerns about their ability “to clean and process diluted bitumen.” Natural Resources Canada reports that the “qualities of bitumen sometimes lead to fouling and corrosion of equipment, causing energy inefficiencies” and refinery shutdowns. Between 2003 and 2007, processing lower-quality oil from the tar sands increased energy consumption at U.S. refineries by 47 per cent, resulting in greater greenhouse gas emissions. Bitumen easily supports the industry maxim that “as crude prices increase, crude quality decreases.”

    To thine ownself be true

    by Agathena on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 01:03:09 PM PST

  •  Another legacy of LBJ (5+ / 0-)

    August 16, 1968

    (c) The Secretary of State may also consult with such other department and agency heads and with such state and local government officials as he deems appropriate with respect to each application. All federal government officials consulted by the Secretary of State pursuant to this section shall provide such information and render such assistance as he may request, consistent with their competence and authority.

    (d) If the Secretary of State finds, after consideration of the views obtained pursuant to subsections (b) and (c), that issuance of a permit to the applicant would serve the national interest, he shall prepare a permit, in such form and with such terms and conditions as the national interest may in his judgment require, and shall notify the officials required to be consulted under subsection (b) above of his proposed determination that the permit be issued.

    (e) If the Secretary of State finds, after considerations of the views obtained pursuant to subsections (b) and (c), that issuance of a permit to the applicant would not serve the national interest, he shall notify the officials required to be consulted under subsection (b) above of his proposed determination that the application be denied.

    (f) The Secretary of State shall issue or deny the permit in accordance with his proposed determination unless, within fifteen days after notification pursuant to subsection (d) or (e) above, an official required to be consulted under subsection (b) above shall notify the Secretary of State that he disagrees with the Secretary's proposed determination and requests the Secretary to refer the application to the President. In the event of such a request, the Secretary of State shall refer the application, together with statements of the views of the several officials involved, to the President for his consideration and final decision.

    Sec. 2. (a) The Secretary of State may provide for the publication in the Federal Register of notice of receipt of applications, for the receipt of public comments on applications, and for publication in the Federal Register of notice of issuance or denial of applications.

    (b) The Secretary of State is authorized to issue such further rules and regulations, and to prescribe such further procedures, as he may from time to time deem necessary or desirable for the exercise of the authority conferred upon him by this order.

    Sec. 3. The authority of the Secretary of State hereunder is supplemental to, and does not supersede, existing authorities or delegations relating to importation, exportation, transmission, or transportation to or from a foreign country. All permits heretofore issued with respect to matters described in Section 1 of this order, and in force at the time of issuance of this order, and all permits issued hereunder, shall remain in effect in accordance with their terms unless and until modified, amended, suspended, or revoked by the President or, upon compliance with the procedures provided for in this order, by the Secretary of State.

    The provisions of Executive Order 11423 of Aug. 16, 1968, appear at 33 FR 11741, 3 CFR, 1966 - 1970 Comp., p. 742, unless otherwise noted.

    Resist much, obey little. ~~Edward Abbey, via Walt Whitman

    by willyr on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 01:23:51 PM PST

  •  Anita Dunn leads another Keystone/XL lobbying... (4+ / 0-)

    ...firm, even though her official business is "public relations." This is part of a significant, ongoing trend in D.C. concerning unregistered lobbyists: pros that don't have to register as lobbyists due to being classified under different professions. It's a huge problem as you read this.

    Her firm, SKDKnickerbocker is ("SKD" stands for Squiers/Knapp/Dunn) it's virtually inarguable, at this point) the leading "New Democrat"/Wall St. Kleptocratic Corporate Dem media consulting/p.r. firm in the country, as you read this.

    If there's one company at the forefront of selling out the Democratic Party to the one percent, "SKDKnick" is it.

    She's also (still unofficial, last I checked) set to run (already running?) communications for President Obama's Library Fund.

    Here's CREDO with more on this TransCanada/Keystone XL (click on THIS LINK, to read more and to sign the petition)...

    Tell Obama campaign strategist Anita Dunn: Stop working for Keystone XL

    Anita Dunn gained enormous influence and access to the Obama White House as a top strategist who helped get the president elected in 2008, partially on his commitment to action on climate.

    Now she’s cashing in on that close relationship by working on behalf of TransCanada to push for approval of the “game over for the climate” Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.1

    It's a betrayal of the commitments that so many of us worked so hard for, and that Dunn herself played a huge role in shaping as top strategist on the 2008 campaign and communications director in the White House. We need to call out her unprincipled and hypocritical work trying to force approval of Keystone XL....

    "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

    by bobswern on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 01:32:46 PM PST

  •  Paul Elliott was Secretary of State under Obama? (0+ / 0-)

    That doesn't sound right.

    I ♥ President Barack Obama.

    by ericlewis0 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 02:14:18 PM PST

  •  Obama set absurdly low Keystone standard (0+ / 0-)

    Last June, President Obama said "allowing the Keystone Pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation's interest... Our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution."

    This sounded like an absurdly low standard for approving Keystone XL, or an absurdly high bar for rejecting it, i.e., rejection requires a finding that the project "significantly exacerbates the problem of carbon pollution." Of course, one project not yet built, no matter how dirty and dangerous, probably wouldn't register on an administration-created "significantly exacerbates" meter any more than one winter season in the U.S. can be said to be significant evidence of global warming for climate deniers.

    That line back in June sure sounded like the fix was in for Keystone XL approval.

  •  Hmmmm-So what your saying is... (0+ / 0-)

    Are you implying money could have a disruptive influence on public policy. What alternative universe are you living in?

    If I said anything that offended anyone, you probably deserved it.

    by Mokislab on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 06:08:25 PM PST

  •  That's still small potatoes. (0+ / 0-)

    how much have all the interested parties kicked in for lobbying?

    Bet the total pool is much more impressive.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 06:20:58 PM PST

    •  I can't see this not being approved (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dinotrac, White Buffalo, RBinDLH

      There is just too much money riding on it.  I'd put the chances of approval at 70-30.  I believe:

      1.  Obama wants to approve this.  His administration REALLY wants to approve this.
      2.  It will eventually be approved one way or another.  If not by Obama, then by the Clinton Administration or the next GOP administration - which, either way, means the next administration.
      3.  The only reason this hasn't been approved is that Obama hasn't figured out how, and isn't quite ready, to admit to Liberals that he is Corporadem sellout afterall.
      4.  The Powers that Be really want this, and they almost never lose on the big ones.

      My guess is that Obama stalls his approval until after the midterms.  This way, he won't either give the GOP another big issue to run on, or totally depress Dem morale and turnout.  Another shellacking that possibly flips the Senate would be a disaster for his legacy building.

      •  Well, there is already one fairly candid (0+ / 0-)

        environmental impact study saying, "Well, they'll just get the stuff out some other way. Might as well make a few American bucks on it."

        I'm not sure I can argue with that assessment.

        I find the Keystone opposition a wee bit hypocritical of us as a nation considering that we are the world's largest customer for tar sands oil until such time a new pipeline (or whatever) is built.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 06:57:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  How fast can renewable make KXL obsolete? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Puddytat, Eric Nelson

    The pressure on building the pipeline will grow in desperation as the lines on the graph approach confluence. That is without even considering the environmental effects, which of course in grown up circles, rides in the back of the bus.

    A true craftsman will meticulously construct the apparatus of his own demise.

    by onionjim on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 06:35:13 PM PST

    •  Better questions: (0+ / 0-)

      How much of that shit has to spill in the US before XL goes down?

      Even better question (which I ask to all in favor of XL):  Why doesn't Canada run that pipeline through their OWN country?

      There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

      by Puddytat on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 09:18:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We have the BEST Congress money can buy! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    White Buffalo, Puddytat, Eric Nelson

    "If Wall Street paid a tax on every “game” they run, we would get enough revenue to run the government on." ~ Will Rogers

    by Lefty Coaster on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 06:36:40 PM PST

  •  I was reading earlier (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    White Buffalo, Eric Nelson

    ..about a couple of people in Texas whose property was condemned through eminent domain for the southern leg of Keystone XL.

    Apparently a foreign corporation has to check one box on a document to the Texas Railroad Commission claiming that the line is a "common carrier" and voila - no more property rights.

    I'm not incredulous, just angry and saddened.

    Dear future generations: Please accept our apologies, We were roaring drunk on petroleum -Kurt Vonnegut

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 06:42:58 PM PST

    •  TheMomCat references Bill McKibben's reporting.. (1+ / 0-)

      ..on TransCanada's & eminent domain - February of 2012

      TheMomCat with words from Bill McKibben on it:

      "Transcanada's decision to build its pipe from Oklahoma to Texas is a nifty excuse to steal some land by eminent domain. It doesn't increase tar sands mining because there's still no pipe across the Canadian border, but it's the usual ugly power grab and land grab by the fossil fuel industry -- we'll do what we can to stand by our allies in that arid and beautiful land."
      I found that article while looking for more information on a Texas woman named Julia Trigg Crawford whose land was threatened by eminent domain and the threat of pollution to her land
      She is back in the news fighting Keystone pipeline in a coordinate effort of volunteers dedicated to keeping a close watch for leaks and possible shortcuts in the construction that could lead to leaks.

      Sort of like a giant neighborhood watch program to for the Keystone XL

      Thx MB

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