Keystone Opponents to Target Democrats in Key Races

Tuesday, 26 Mar 2013 12:27 PM

By Lisa Barron

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Leading opponents of the Keystone XL oil pipeline are targeting Democrats who support the project, including Rep. Stephen Lynch in his primary race against Rep. Edward M. Markey in the special election to replace former Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry.

Environmental group 350.org recently endorsed Markey over Lynch, a pipeline supporter, and hedge-fund billionaire Tom Steyer has openly attacked Lynch over his Keystone backing, The Hill newspaper reported Tuesday.

Both 350.org and Steyer are also threatening to go national with their efforts to defeat pipeline supporters in other races.

“You’ve got both the grass-roots and the big donors going after Lynch because of his KXL vote,” Jamie Henn, a spokesman for 350, told The Hill, adding: “That campaign, like the tar sands that will flow through XL, is highly exportable.”

At the same time, a spokesman for Steyer, Chris Lehane, said the California environmentalist “believes that climate is an issue of our times both in terms of the economic impact on our country and what it will mean to our children—with Keystone being the current front-lines of this policy fight.”

Steyer “intends to evaluate races where climate is very much on the ballot in terms of the candidates in a particular race,” he added.

While President Barack Obama is still considering whether to sign off on Keystone, which would carry oil from Canadian tar sands to Gulf Coast refineries, Democrats are largely split on the project.

It is not yet clear, The Hill noted, whether the two green groups with the biggest political operations — the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters — will follow Steyer and 350.org’s lead in 2014.

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