Keystone Pipeline Opponents Are Biggest Spenders in MA Special Election

Posted: Apr 07, 2013 9:00 AM

The Keystone XL Pipeline has long been a topic of controversy among energy enthusiasts, but as Katie reported this past week, support for the pipeline is now higher than ever. Now, even though only extremists are the ones opposing the new pipeline, it looks like they are all worried about Massachusetts. Why Massachusetts? Seeing as the pipeline will be nowhere near the Massachusetts area, it seems a bit odd that they are all so worried with the state. Oh wait, no there is a special election in June to try and influence.

The pipeline has emerged as a top issue in the upcoming special election. Nearly one-third of the outside money going into the election has come from environmental groups.

The biggest spender so far is the League of Conservation Voters, which has already spent more than $545,000 to help elect Democratic candidate and Rep. Ed Markey, who has a strong pro-environment platform.

Ed Markey is running as a climate change champion and apparently belongs to the small group of people left opposing the Keystone XL Pipeline. But the League of Conservation Voters is not done yet. They still plan on committing $100,000 more to knock on doors of likely Democratic primary voters in Massachusetts before the primary election on April 30th.

Another environmental group spending big money to defeat Lynch is the NextGen Committee, which has reported spending more than $196,000, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

The group is backed by California billionaire Thomas Steyer, who has called on Lynch to oppose the pipeline. NextGen has spent $54,700 for an aerial banner that read "Steve Lynch says: Go Habs! And Go Canadian Dirty Oil."

The banner appears to question Lynch’s loyalty to the Boston Bruins. The "Habs" is the nickname for the Montreal Canadiens. The banner was flown over downtown Boston ahead of a matchup between the two hockey teams.

NextGen also spent more than $50,000 for video mobile billboards and $40,000 for online advertisements. That's an apparent violation of an agreement signed by Lynch and Markey known as the "People's Pledge," which is designed to discourage radio, television and Internet ads by outside groups. If there is a violation, the candidate who benefits agrees to pay half the cost of the ad to a charity named by their rival.

Markey has made environmental issues one of his top priorities and the focus of a television campaign ad that highlighted his role in holding BP responsible for the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Environmental groups are not the only major donors for the Democratic primary candidates, the unions are getting in on the fight too. The SEIU has already spent $368,000 on independent expenditures in favor of Markey. That money went to cover gas, staff salaries, and canvassing services. The International Association of Firefighters has come out largely in favor of Lynch and has spent over $85,000.

What can be drawn from this information is that small, special interests are running the election in Massachusetts. Although most people now support the Keystone XL Pipeline, it does matter for a few small interests that are trying to get their influence into the candidates in their special election. And the fact that this goes beyond the pipeline and into unions is just a sign that these groups have their hands in the process early to try and influence the candidates early. Making the connections at this time with the candidates helps their future goals of pushing their issues. Too bad no one really cares what Massachusetts thinks of the Keystone XL Pipeline seeing as they are so removed from the issue.