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Senators Step Up Pipeline Pressure on White House

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo

“We’ll definitely support [Lugar’s bill],” said Sabrina Fang, a spokeswoman for the American Petroleum Institute, which represents the nation’s oil and gas companies. “Both sides have been lobbying for their respective sides. We will continue to [push for] a speedy approval of the pipeline.”

The oil trade group has spent nearly $6 million on lobbying this year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

TransCanada, the Canadian company building the pipeline, also plans to play a role once Lugar’s bill materializes. The company spent more than $1 million on lobbying this year.

“We continue to have discussions with lawmakers,” Shawn Howard, a spokesman for the company, said in an interview. “There are many Members of Congress both in the House and the Senate who have been expressing their concern about the time it has taken so far.”

Opponents of the pipeline say there are also plenty of lawmakers who are worried about the pipeline’s effect on the environment. Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s international program, said the protests and grass-roots pressure directed at the White House in recent months could also shift to Capitol Hill.

“I think it was really that public voice raising concerns about the pipeline that [administration officials] rightly listened to,” she said. “The grass-roots involvement will absolutely continue. People are watching this pipeline very closely.”

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