Good Question

A friend has shared with me a letter written by U.S. Representative Henry Waxman to one Deborah Holt. The crux of the inquiry is in the following paragraphs:

“According to lobbying disclosure documents filed with the U.S. Senate, you were retained by the State of Indiana to lobby regarding the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. I al11 writing to request a briefing in order to better understand the State of Indiana’s interest in Keystone XL.

On January 24, 201 2, in responding to President Obama’s State of the Union address, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels criticized President Obama’s recent decision to deny a permit for the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline. I I have subsequently learned that in the fourth quarter of 2011 you received $50,500 in state taxpayer funds as a lobbyist for the State of Indiana, including for lobbying related to Keystone XL. 2 This seems unusual as the State does not have an obvious interest in seeing the Keystone XL project constructed. The proposed route for the Keystone XL pipeline does not pass through the State of Indiana, nor does it come close to the State’s borders; the nearest the:proposed route would approach would be hundreds of miles away in Nebraska and Kansas. Indiana facilities would not have access to the pipeline, nor would it appear that Indiana would particularly benefit from any economic activity associated with the construction of the pipeline. According to reports, TransCanada has contracted to purchase its steel from India – not from u.s.steel producers. The State of indiana thus appears to receive no clear benefit from the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.”

Waxman goes on to quote the Canadian company building the pipeline to the effect that the project will increase oil prices in Indiana and several other states, so consumer concerns were evidently not a motivation for this interesting use of taxpayer dollars.

The amount of money involved is not great, but in a down economy, when Indiana taxpayers are being told we lack money for public education and other public services, when our fiscal shortfall is the reason Governor Daniels has given for laying off government workers, why are we spending scarce public dollars lobbying for a project that will not benefit us, and in which we appear to have no articulable interest?

Inquiring minds want to know.

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