February 18, 2014

Refineries Seeking Canadian Tar Sands Quietly Finance Pro-Keystone XL Advocacy

afpmThe Consumer Energy Alliance has played a key role in building support for the Keystone XL pipeline. The group sponsored a pro-pipeline study, provided letters used by members of Congress to endorse the project, mobilized thousands of petitions to the State Department, and even created the website “BuildKXLNow.org.”

David Holt, president of CEA, portrays his group as a broad coalition, testifying to a congressional committee that he represents “hundreds of thousands of grassroots supporters” and various stakeholder companies.

But disclosures show one of the largest contributors to CEA is a group of refineries seeking Canadian tar sands oil. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would link oil sands in Alberta to a cluster of refineries along the gulf coast. These refineries — including facilities owned by Valero, Phillips 66 and Marathon — have invested billions of dollars into upgrades to process heavy tar sands oil.

The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, a trade group that represents Valero, Phillips 66, Marathon, and other major oil refineries, has provided $1,835,000 to CEA between 2011 and 2012. In 2011, the refiners’ contributions to CEA represented nearly a third of the organization’s budget.

AFPM has also lobbied aggressively to ensure oil brought to the refineries from the Keystone XL may be exported to markets in foreign countries, a primary concern for the refinery industry.

CEA is managed by an industry lobbying firm called HBW Resources, an arrangement that allows refinery money to flow into the pockets of the Keystone XL’s biggest advocates. Holt and other staff members of CEA double as partners to HBW. Nearly $3 million dollars from CEA’s budget has gone to HBW as consulting fees.