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Danielle Droitsch’s Blog

Keystone XL: Big Oil Influence and the Senate's Pipeline Pushers

Danielle Droitsch

Posted November 19, 2012 in Moving Beyond Oil

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The tar sands industry is making a lot of noise right now in a desperate attempt to push for approval of the controversial northern segment of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.  It’s no surprise Big Oil’s American Petroleum Institute continues to push for approval of the pipeline despite mounting evidence the pipeline is not in the national interest.  What is less well known is that some of the biggest recipients of Big Oil’s money in the Senate are weighing in with the same message.  Thanks to our friends at Oil Change International we now have a better sense of the influence Big Oil has in Congress to promote tar sands and the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

A recent letter from a group of pro-pipeline Senators argues that because nothing has changed about the pipeline, it should be approved.  These Senators fail to mention the energy landscape has changed since the ill-advised project was suggested.  And folks are catching onto the true nature of this Big Oil pocket-lining export project, which is certainly not in the nation’s best interest (though it’s great for the oil companies).

And Big Oil has not hesitated to throw money at the pipeline's supporters as the folks at Oil Change International have exposed:

“This group of eighteen Senators, not surprisingly, has taken on average, roughly twice as much money over their careers from fossil fuel interests as has the rest of the Senate.” 

Led by Mitch McConnell, whose lifetime Big Oil donations now total near a whopping $1.7 million, the group includes four others who have topped the million dollar mark in donations (plus Joe Manchin is less than $500 away). Check the Oil Change International post for the full rundown and comparison with the rest of the Senate’s numbers.

The Obama administration should resist Big Oil’s calls for fast approval of the northern segment of the pipeline.  President Obama himself promised a thorough review of this controversial pipeline.  And given evidence that Keystone XL is an export pipeline that threatens America’s waterways and drives up gas prices, the American public deserves nothing less than a full and comprehensive review.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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