Among those blasting President Obama’s decision to deny permission to build a massive, transnational oil pipeline is a conservative organization which has been described as “discreet” but highly influential.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) says it is disappointed in Obama’s decision Wednesday to deny the application for the Keystone XL pipeline project. Obama says he denied the permit based on an unrealistically tight 60-day review period forced upon him last month by congressional Republicans.
The $7 billion pipeline has been highly controversial, both for its potential to damage water supply in Nebraska, as well as for apparent cozy corporate influence a key lobbyist has had with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The independent inspector general of the State Department had launched an investigation of the Obama administration’s handling of the review of the pipeline application. The president had wanted to put off a decision until 2013.
Administration approval was required because the pipeline would have crossed the U.S. border.
In a statement, ALEC says Obama’s position is “in direct opposition” to a resolution in support of the proposed 1,700-mile pipeline, which was approved earlier this month by ALEC’s Legislative Board of Directors.
“ALEC members understand that the Keystone XL project is vital to this nation’s energy security and is a much needed project that will bring jobs to the nation in a time of economic malaise,” says Todd Wynn, director of the Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force at ALEC.
ALEC has, for decades, quietly produced business-friendly “model” legislation for state legislators. These “model” bills have formed the basis of hundreds of pieces of legislation each year, and often end up as state law.
ALEC and its members say that they favor “federalism and conservative public policy solutions.”
Among its backers, ALEC counts Koch Industries, owned by the wealthy Koch brothers who are conservative activists who fund a variety of right-wing groups and causes.
Media attention given to ALEC has grown steadily over the last year as its influence has grown since receptive Republicans grew in clout following the 2010 elections.
You can read a guide to ALEC and its legislative influence online here.
Although the administration left the door open for the company pitching the pipeline to re-apply for permission, ALEC complains “this will cause several more years of delay and subsequent continued economic stagnation, specifically at a time when Americans are in dire need of job creation.”
ALEC cites high job-creation figures touted by many pipeline proponents, but which are higher than the number the pipeline company, TransCanada, had provided.
Scott Nance is the editor and publisher of the news site The Washington Current. He has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.