Two Democrats Against Keystone Have Investments in Competitors

Thursday, 13 Feb 2014 02:17 PM

By Courtney Coren

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Some Democrats who oppose the Keystone XL pipeline may have a conflict of interest due to investments they have in competing companies.

Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia has been one of the most outspoken critics of the project and continues to oppose the Keystone pipeline even after the State Department released its report saying the pipeline poses no significant environmental impact, The Washington Free Beacon reports.

"Building this pipeline would dramatically ramp up capacity for tar sands oil that moves us in the opposite direction of an innovative, make it cleaner approach," Kaine said in a statement following the report.

"In my view, there is now enough evidence to conclude that construction of this pipeline is not in America's long-term interest."

In June, the Virginia Democrat penned an opinion piece for The Washington Post making the case for why President Barack Obama should block the project, saying that it may not be wise to use tar sands oil because it is "15 to 20 percent dirtier than conventional petroleum."

However, the Free Beacon has learned from public records from Kaine's most recent financial disclosure that he has between $15,000 and $50,000 invested in Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, which is a company that owns the Trans Mountain Pipeline in Canada and takes oil sands from Alberta to Canada's west coast where there are refineries and export terminals. These are the very oil sands that Kaine has warned against.

If the Keystone pipeline doesn't go through, some have projected that it would benefit Kinder Morgan, as its pipeline would likely be relied on more heavily to export oil sands.

Democratic Rep. Alan Lowenthal of California also opposes the Keystone pipeline, and also has investments in Keystone competitors. The California Democrat has $1,000 to $15,000 invested in Kinder Morgan and $15,000 to $50,000 invested in Kinder Morgan Management, which oversees management for Kinder's Energy Partners subsidiary, as well as $15,000 to $50,000 invested in Enbridge Energy Management.

Enbridge is a TransCanada Competitor as well as the largest crude oil transporter in Canada. Both these companies were key to the State Department, concluding that the Keystone pipeline would have minimal carbon emissions.

"This is not an 'appearance of conflict of interest,' it is a bald-faced conflict of interest," Ron Arnold of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise told the Free Beacon.

He added that the two lawmakers should "divest themselves of the tainted investments and recuse themselves from remarks and votes on the issue."

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