TransCanada Corp., 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.
The $5.4 billion proposed link between Canada’s oil sands and refineries along the Gulf Coast is under review at the U.S. State Department because it crosses an international border.
The project has inflamed environmental groups including the Sierra Club that say it will worsen global warming. The production of oil sands releases more greenhouse gases than other forms of oil. Supporters say it will boost U.S. energy security and create thousands of construction jobs.
Companies and interest groups are required to report how much they spent on lobbying each quarter. Records for the last three months of 2013 were posted by the Senate this week.
TransCanada spent $260,000 on lobbying in the fourth quarter, the records show. The records don’t specify how much was spent on any issue, though the company said it lobbied on Keystone and issues related to natural gas.
Its chief Washington lobbyist, Paul Elliott, is a former top campaign aide 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.”
The State Department is completing an environmental analysis of Keystone, after which it will determine whether the project is in the U.S. national interest before a final decision by Obama. TransCanada proposed the project in 2008, and had to alter the original route after officials in Nebraska said it endangered a sensitive ecosystem.
Canadian officials pressed the administration last week for a decision on Keystone, which they are seeking to help promote Alberta’s energy resource.
“The time for Keystone is now,” Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said in a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington. “I’ll go further the time for a decision on Keystone is now, even if it’s not the right one. We can’t continue in this state of limbo.”