LOBBYING

TransCanada spends big on K Street as pipeline fight heads for finish

TransCanada Corp. -- the company behind the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project -- has nearly doubled its lobbying spending compared to this point last year.

Its subsidiary, TransCanada PipeLines Ltd., has spent $790,000 on lobbying so far this year, according to disclosure records filed with the Senate. That's much more than the $450,000 that the company spent for the first half of 2013.

Along with others active in the influence industry, TransCanada filed its lobbying report to meet yesterday's quarterly deadline under the Lobbying Disclosure Act. The records detail how much companies, public interest groups and trade associations, including many in the energy and environmental world, spent on lobbying as well as what issues they lobbied on.

TransCanada noted that it had lobbied on "natural gas issues in the United States and between the U.S. and Canada" as well as "permitting issues regarding Keystone XL pipeline project," according to its latest report.

This year, the KXL pipeline has been a major concern for its environmental critics as well as oil and gas companies that want to see the project completed. The subject of much debate on Capitol Hill, the pipeline was delayed by the Obama administration earlier this year over a Nebraska court challenge to the project (Greenwire, April 18).

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Along with KXL, there has been plenty so far this year to keep energy and environmental lobbyists busy, though Congress has accomplished little so far in actual legislation.

An energy efficiency bill crafted by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) failed to move; congressional efforts to block U.S. EPA's proposed rules have been stuck in Capitol Hill gridlock; and the administration's approval of liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports has not gone fast enough for many in Washington.

"The first half of the second session of a Congress is often when the bulk of the activity occurs," said David Goldston, director of government affairs for the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Plus, that was heightened by the administration introducing a number of proposals that then needed to be defended on Capitol Hill."

The environmental group saw an increase in its lobbying spending -- from about $393,000 spent so far this year, compared to roughly $230,000 for 2013's first half -- as it sought defend EPA from various appropriations riders, with many targeting its new power plant rule.

"The appropriations process started earlier this year because they had the agreement on budget numbers, so that led to earlier battles about efforts to block EPA action," Goldston said.

Other environmental groups reported spending on lobbying so far this year.

Environmental Defense Action Fund has spent $600,000 on K Street efforts for 2014's first half, while the Sierra Club dropped $200,000 and the League of Conservation Voters spent $110,000 in the same time period.

Action by the administration has led to big jumps in lobbying spending by some, including the National Mining Association (NMA).

"EPA's climate rule has led to NMA increasing the intensity of its advocacy work, which has included extensive grass-roots outreach and advocacy advertising. We felt the need to educate and inform consumers and local, state and federal policymakers of the expansive impact that economists, manufacturers and other experts have said will likely come from the power plant rule," said Nancy Gravatt, a spokeswoman for the group.

The mining trade association has spent almost $3 million on lobbying so far this year -- a spike from the almost $1.3 million NMA spent at this point in 2013.

Some issues on back burner

But many energy interests saw declines in their lobbying spending this year compared to this point last year.

America's Natural Gas Alliance has spent $710,000 on lobbying so far this year, not as much as the $1.1 million that the group paid at this point in 2013.

Frank Macchiarola, ANGA's executive vice president for government affairs, said the trade group has undergone a leadership change, with Marty Durbin stepping in as president and CEO last year and Macchiarola himself coming aboard earlier this year.

"We have really moved resources from the outside to in-house, increasing our own federal government affairs team," Macchiarola said.

Macchiarola said ANGA "has spent a lot of time this year on LNG exports. Obviously, LNG exports have gotten a lot of attention as DOE and FERC have moved through their process on applications for LNG exports."

Major players in the oil and gas industry saw their lobbying spending decline, too.

Chevron Corp. spent $5.5 million on lobbying for the first half of 2013, more than the approximately $5 million the company spent so far this year.

Exxon Mobil Corp. has spent more than $6 million on advocacy so far this year, less than the $7.9 million it had spent at this point last year.

Koch Industries Inc. has also spent less on lobbying so far this year, from about $5.4 million so far in 2014 compared to $5.8 million at 2013's midway point.

The industry's trade group, the American Petroleum Institute (API), however, has increased its lobbying spending somewhat in 2014. The group has spent almost $4.4 million so far this year, a little more than the nearly $4.2 million in 2013 at this point.

"We've urged Congress to approve the KXL pipeline, open up new areas for responsible energy development and repeal unworkable ethanol mandates under the renewable fuel standard," said Carlton Carroll, an API spokesman.

Many of those issues will have to wait until next year as lawmakers gear up for the election year, spending more time on the campaign trail than in the halls of Congress for the remainder of 2014. Lobbyists are already looking ahead.

"We are going to be looking at areas that we need to focus going on into the next Congress. A lot of these numbers are dictated by events inside of organizations but also by events outside of organizations, such as the legislative and regulatory environment," Macchiarola said.

Twitter: @KevinBogardus | Email: kbogardus@eenews.net

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