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Keystone XL Pipeline Backers Dwarfed Opponents In Lobbying Efforts

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama announced his administration was denying an application by the TransCanada Corporation to build a tar sands pipeline between Alberta, Canada, and Nederland, Texas.

This decision, a major victory for grassroots activists, comes after lobbying by TransCanada and its big oil allies significantly dwarfed that of environmental groups. TransCanada alone nearly matched the combined lobbying expenditures of all Keystone XL opponents on all issues, over the periods in which they lobbied for and against the pipeline in 2011, a ThinkProgress Green analysis shows.

An analysis of lobbying disclosure records for the first, second, and third quarters of 2011 suggests that the lobbying expenses of the 20 or more business and labor interests who backed the project were much greater than those for the seven organizations that actively opposed the measure:

Thirty-eight different companies or organizations reported lobbying the federal government on the Keystone XL pipeline in general or on H.R.1938 (the North American-Made Energy Security Act, a bill which aimed to speed up the Obama administration’s consideration of the application). Thirty-one groups supported the pipeline, and seven groups opposed it.

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TransCanada’s lobbying efforts alone over the first three quarters of 2011 totaled at least $920,000.

The seven groups in opposition to Keystone XL spent just over $1 million on all lobbying efforts. Corporate Ethics International, Defenders of Wildlife, EarthJustice Legal Defense Fund, the League of Conservation Voters, the National Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club, and the Western Organization of Resource Councils reported spending just over $1 million on lobbying efforts for the periods when they were lobbying on Keystone XL — little more than TransCanada’s spending. Lobbying disclosure forms do not specify how much is spent on individual issues.

The 31 groups supporting Keystone XL spent $59.8 million on all lobbying. Combined with the massive lobbying prowess of supporters like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, ConocoPhillips, Shell Oil, Exxon Mobil Corporation, the American Petroleum Institute, and the National Association of Manufacturers, as well as less expected players like the National Taxpayers Union and Deere & Company, supporters of the pipeline had lobbying operations over the periods in which they lobbied on application totaling at least $59.8 million.

Oil and energy companies alone spent more than $37 million on total lobbying.

TransCanada has vowed to reapply. If these numbers are any indication, they will likely do so with some well-funded allies.

See the organizations who reported lobbying on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in the first three quarters of 2011:

Lobbied For Keystone XL ($59.8 million) Lobbied Against Keystone XL ($1 million) AMERICAN COUNCIL OF ENGINEERING COMPANIES CORPORATE ETHICS INTERNATIONAL AMERICAN PETROLEUM INSTITUTE DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION TRADES DEPARTMENT, AFL-CIO EARTHJUSTICE LEGAL DEFENSE FUND CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF THE USA LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS CONOCOPHILLIPS NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION CONSUMER ENERGY ALLIANCE SIERRA CLUB DEERE & COMPANY WESTERN ORGANIZATION OF RESOURCE COUNCILS DEVON ENERGY COMPANY EXXON MOBIL CORP IN SITU OIL SANDS ALLIANCE INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS INTERNATIONAL UNION OF OPERATING ENGINEERS LABORERS’ INTERNATIONAL UNION OF NORTH AMERICA NATIONAL TAXPAYERS UNION NATL ASSN OF MANUFACTURERS NEW ENGLAND FUEL INSTITUTE SHELL OIL COMPANY SMALL BUSINESS & ENTREPRENEURSHIP COUNCIL TRANSCANADA PIPELINES, LTD UNITED ASSOCIATION OF JOURNEYMEN & APPRENTICES OF THE PLUMBING & PIPEFITTING INDUSTRY

Note: this chart does not include entities whose official position on the bill could not be determined