TransCanada Lobbying Tops $1.3 Million as It Pushes Keystone

TransCanada Corp., the Calgary-based company pushing a $7 billion pipeline from Alberta’s oil sands to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast, spent $1.33 million on Washington lobbyists last year.

The company hired two firms to help advance its Keystone XL pipeline project on Capitol Hill, according to public records filed with the Senate. Bryan Cave LLP and McKenna, Long & Aldridge LLP reported lobbying on the pipeline and other energy issues.

“One of the dirty little secrets of lobbying, is that for a relatively small amount of money in the scope of finance, you can get a pretty good return on investment,” said Meredith McGehee, policy director for the Campaign Legal Center, a Washington-based group that monitors political and campaign spending. “It doesn’t mean you always win. It does mean you are always in the game, and the game continues.”

TransCanada first registered to lobby Congress on Nov. 5, 2010, records show.

Congressional Republicans sought last year to expedite the permitting process for the pipeline, which the company says would create as many as 20,000 jobs, a number disputed by environmental groups and the U.S. State Department.

Last month, Republicans succeeded in adding language to the payroll-tax-cut extension agreement requiring President Barack Obama to decide on the pipeline within 60 days.

Obama Rejection

Obama rejected the permit on Jan. 18, saying the deadline didn’t leave enough time to consider alternatives to the original pipeline route, which went through the environmentally sensitive Sand Hills region in Nebraska.

The lawmakers now are backing a bill that would require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve the permit within 30 days, so long as it meets safety requirements.

The legislation, introduced by Representative Lee Terry, a Nebraska Republican, doesn’t give FERC adequate time to assess the project, Jeffrey Wright, the agency’s director of the office of energy projects, told a House energy subcommittee today. The lobbying expenditure was reported earlier today by Politico.

The bill is H.R. 3548.

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