Fox News Report On Anti-Keystone XL Spending Is Off By More Than $40 Billion

UPDATE (11/3/14): Anna Kooiman issued a correction on the November 1 edition of Fox & Friends Saturday, stating that Tom Steyer “has actually contributed $42.9 million”: 


Fox News used a baseless, wildly inflated figure to blame the continued delay of the Keystone XL pipeline on spending by climate activist Tom Steyer, who has lobbied against the project. The network claimed that Steyer has spent $42.9 billion on the midterm elections -- a number that is nearly 600 times larger than the amount Steyer has actually spent.

On October 30, the hosts of Fox News' Fox & Friends berated the Obama administration for delaying a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline until after the 2014 midterm elections. If approved, the pipeline would transport crude oil from so-called "tar sands" deposits in Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast for export overseas. Fox co-host Anna Kooiman alleged that part of “the equation” for that delay is the money and influence of Steyer -- a donor and activist supporting environmental causes -- in this year's elections. Kooiman claimed that Steyer had contributed “some $42.9 billion” to defeating the pipeline: 

Tom Steyer's entire net worth is $1.6 billion, according to Forbes, and as of October 28, Steyer had spent about $73 million during this year's elections, according to USA Today, on issues ranging from the Keystone XL to the Renewable Fuel Standard to climate change denial. Fox inflated Steyer's contributions in opposition to the pipeline by nearly 600 times, and its estimate is off by roughly $42.8 billion.

Meanwhile, the oil industry has spent tens of millions of dollars on lobbying efforts over the past several years, far outpacing spending by environmentalists. TransCanada, the company that wants to build the Keystone XL pipeline, has spent over $7 million on lobbying the federal government since 2001. The American Petroleum Institute has devoted over $22 million on pro-Keystone XL lobbying and campaigns. The House members who voted in 2013 to force construction of the pipeline have received over $56 million from oil and gas interests. And an analysis from the Sunlight Foundation determined that lobbying reports on the Keystone XL pipeline have been filed by the oil industry four times as much as those filed by environmental groups. Yet none of these efforts were mentioned on Fox.

If approved, the pipeline would likely increase the rate of tar sands extraction, an extremely greenhouse-gas intensive process with a far greater impact on climate change than conventional oil. President Obama has stated that he will not approve the pipeline if it significantly exacerbates climate change. While the State Department's environmental impact assessment of the project determined in March that it would not significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions because rail would transport the oil instead, several reports have been published since that call the department's findings into question.