Keystone Foes Use Narrow Senate Win to Prepare for 2015

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Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline join the Cowboy and Indian Alliance in a rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Saturday, April 26, 2014

Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg

Environmental foes of the Keystone XL pipeline are using their narrow victory in the U.S. Senate this week to raise funds for the next showdown on the project.

“Make an emergency gift to the Sierra Club right now,” Sierra Club head Michael Brune said in a pitch after the Senate fell one vote short of the 60 needed to pass a bill backing the pipeline. “We’ve worked so hard to stop the pipeline for a long time now. But we have to keep fighting.”

The League of Conservation Voters, which lobbies for environmental causes, sent out emergency alerts to its 40,000 members nationwide, urging them to contact their senator to offer thanks, or criticism, for their vote.

“We expect to see even more attacks on the environment when the new Congress comes into session in January,” according to the LCV e-mail. “Our democracy works when lawmakers know that we’re paying attention.”

Since TransCanada Corp., a Calgary-based pipeline maker, applied to build Keystone in September 2008, it has become a proxy in broader political debates over jobs, U.S. energy security and climate change. Keystone XL would have the capacity to carry 830,000 barrels of oil a day, linking Alberta’s oil sands to refineries along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coast.

Environmental groups say the pipeline is a symbol of fossil-fuel development that must be defeated, and they’ve used it to galvanize public support and raise cash. Republicans are using delays approving Keystone to blast Obama as an enemy of jobs and energy independence.

Petitions Obama

Billionaire and former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer’s political group, NextGen Climate, sent a “YOU DID IT” e-mail to supporters that asked recipients donate to help “us to continue our work.” Steyer’s political action committee backs candidates who support efforts to fight climate change.

After the Nov. 18 Senate vote,, a group that started the anti-pipeline effort, collected online petitions from supporters that urge Obama to deny the pipeline.

“With Congress’ shenanigans out of the way (for now), he has a chance to show his commitment to science by rejecting the pipeline,” according to an e-mail.

The State Department, which reviews cross-border projects, is reviewing whether Keystone is in the national interest. Environmentalists say they were encouraged last week when Obama offered critical comments about the project in statements.

“The president’s language on Keystone was the strongest we’ve ever seen,” said Karthik Ganapathy, a spokesman for “It always helps to have one thing to rally around, but each time it comes up, it feels like a crisis.”

Even the losers can use the vote to raise money.

Senator Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat who spent days cajoling colleagues to vote for her measure as a way to help in her Dec. 6 run-off contest, invited supporters to a fundraiser at La Loma, near the Capitol, according to an invitation obtained by Bloomberg Politics.

A ticket to attend the “happy hour” just after the vote ranged from $500 to $1,000.