• Enviros Spend Millions… To Elect Pro-Keystone XL Democrats?

    Politics breeds the most unlikely of friends. In a surprising turn of events, the anti-Keystone League of Conservation Voters is backing congressional candidates that openly support the Keystone XL pipeline.

    LCV has backed Republicans Maine Sen. Susan Collins and New Jersey Rep. Frank LoBiondo, reports Politico Pro. Along with these Republicans LCV has also endorsed these pro-Keystone Democrats: North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan, Georgia Senate candidate Michelle Nunn, Iowa House candidate Staci Appel and Montana House candidate John Lewis.

    LCV has so far donated $4,700 to Sen. Collins’s campaign and given $5,798 to Sen. Hagan’s reelection effort despite Hagan’s support for Keystone as well as her support for hydraulic fracturing and offshore drilling in North Carolina. LCV has also spent about $2.3 million on independent expenditures in support of Sen. Hagan, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

    Politico Pro notes that Alaska Democratic Sen. Mark Begich has also gotten LCV donations this cycle, though the group has not officially endorsed him yet. Sen. Begich has gotten $8,500 in donations from LCV, according to data from CRP. LCV plans to spend a total of $25 million in the 2013-2014 election cycle.

    The Keystone XL pipeline has been a top target for environmentalists for the last six years. The multi-billion dollar project that aimed to move oil sands from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries was quickly opposed by environmental groups who argued it would harm the environment and exacerbate global warming.

    It’s been a headache for the Obama administration which has delayed approval of the pipeline for years due to political pressure from green groups as well as pressure by pro-oil Democrats who want to see the pipeline built.

    LCV is not the only environmental group to be spending big on this race. NextGen Climate Action, a group founded by hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer, has spent more than $50 million so far this election, trying to defeat Republican candidates and pump up global warming issues.

    Steyer actually rose to prominence among environmentalists due to his vocal opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. Steyer has spent millions opposing the pipeline and trying to make global warming a top-tier issue. This election is no exception.

    While Steyer’s group has not explicitly endorsed or funded pro-Keystone Democrats, they have funded groups that have. This election cycle, NextGen has given $150,000 to LCV’s political arm, according to CRP data.

    NextGen has also given $5.5 million to the Senate Majority PAC — whose goal is to keep the Democrats in control of the Senate. The PAC has spent about $1.4 million this cycle on independent expenditures in support of Sen. Hagan, according to CRP data.

    So why are environmental groups backing pro-Keystone Democrats? It’s likely that green groups are more worried about the integrity of President Obama’s “Climate Action Plan” rather than a single pipeline.

    A Republican-controlled Senate and House could more easily pass legislation rolling back new Environmental Protection Regulations on carbon dioxide emissions that imperil the coal industry. This EPA rule is the crown jewel of the environmental movement’s legislative efforts since the failed 2010 cap-and-trade effort — losing this would be a huge blow to their agenda.

    It is is therefore important to environmentalists that Democrats retain control of the Senate.

    It seems like green groups are more willing to risk losing the Keystone XL battle than losing the crusade against global warming.

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