The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Washington, D.C.-based pro-drilling front group, the Institute for 21st Century Energy, has spawned yet another front group of its own to push for construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would expand an existing oil pipeline to carry crude oil from the Athabasca Tar Sands in northeastern Alberta, Canada, to refineries in the American midwest and on to the U.S. Gulf Coast. The Chamber set up its new sub-front group, the Partnership to Fuel America, in Nebraska to address growing opposition to the pipeline in that state. Nebraska's conservative Republican Governor, Dave Heineman, came out against the project, since 254 miles of the proposed pipeline would run through Nebraska and overlie the Ogallala Aquifer -- a crucial source of water for the state. A Minnesota-based lobbying firm called Public Affairs Company set up the Partnership for Fuel America, and a Minneapolis-based Republican consultant named Stacy Thompson runs the astroturf group. Among the businesses the group lists as "partners" are some that give the group a down-to-earth, grassroots feel, like "Phil's Farm Repair," "Rowdy's Steakhouse" and "Pizza Etc." One of the proposed pipeline's major beneficiaries would be Koch Industries, which is responsible for close to 25 percent of the oil from tar sands imported into the U.S. Koch Industries also owns Koch Exploration Canada, L.P., an oil sands-focused exploration company based in Calgary that acquires, develops and trades petroleum properties.
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