Lincoln, NE — As the midterm election season starts to heat up, new analysis from the Associated Press shows that the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline has given thousands of dollars to election campaigns including that of Gov. Pete Ricketts. TransCanada spend more than $1.2 million on lobbying in Nebraska between 2006 and 2017. Comments from Jane Kleeb, president, Bold Alliance.
New analysis by the Associated Press found a TransCanada political committee gave more than 65-thousand dollars to Nebraska campaigns within the past year, including 25-thousand to Governor Pete Ricketts’ campaign, 15-thousand to the Nebraska Republican Party, and another 25-thousand to state legislators. Jane Kleeb with the group Bold Alliance says TransCanada knows that property owners think the company’s Keystone XL pipeline project is too risky.
“The vast majority of landowners along the proposed pipeline route do not want to see this pipeline built. So knowing that they can’t just easily get the landowners to agree to the pipeline, they’ve moved onto politicians to try to ram through this project,” says Kleeb.
TransCanada says it’s just participating in an open and transparent political process, and argues the pipeline is safe and would provide economic benefits to local communities. TransCanada previously has reported investing more than one-point-two million dollars in Nebraska lobbying efforts over the past decade.
The pipeline would transport Canadian crude oil to a refinery in Texas owned by Saudi Arabia for export to foreign countries, and Kleeb is skeptical that it would boost Nebraska economy. She notes farmers and ranchers are not against all pipelines, and want to see ethanol and other biofuel infrastructure developed. But Kleeb says this project also comes with significant environmental concerns.
“It’s taking on the risks that tar sands has, which is a unique form of oil. When it spills, it’s very difficult if not impossible to clean up, especially once it hits the Ogalalla aquifer and our moving waters,” says Kleeb.
Kleeb says her group plans to counter TransCanada’s cash by mobilizing grassroots networks, with an eye on two open seats on the Nebraska Public Service Commission. The commission narrowly voted in favor of the pipeline last year, three to two. The decision has been temporarily blocked by a pending lawsuit before the state’s Supreme Court.