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Keystone oil project a boon for lobbyists

– Almost 50 groups representing clients as varied as oil companies and American Jews have stepped up their Washington spending as the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline proves to be a bonanza for lobbyists.

The American Petroleum Institute, an oil industry trade group, increased its lobbying spending on all issues, including Keystone, to $2.1 million in the first three months of the year from $1.8 million during the same period a year earlier, Senate records show. The American Jewish Committee lobbying costs rose to $40,000 from $30,000.

They are among 48 groups that disclosed in filings last week that they were lobbying on Calgary-based TransCanada Corp.’s proposed $5.3 billion pipeline, which would bring oil derived from tar sands in Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Others include construction equipment manufacturers such as Deere & Co., labor unions such as the Laborers International Union of North America, and environmental groups such as the League of Conservation Voters – and the government of Canada.

“Because it’s such a high-profile issue and it has such symbolism, it’s become a full-employment program for K Street,” said Bill Allison, editorial director at the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington-based watchdog. Many lobbyists have offices on K Street in the District of Columbia.

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