Calgary-based energy company Enbridge was Minnesota’s biggest spender on lobbying in 2018, according to a new report.
The company spent nearly $11.1 million, with most of the money used to advocate in front of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for the right to build a massive oil pipeline across northern Minnesota.
The PUC approved the 340-mile pipeline, called Line 3, in June. The $2.6 billion project is still wending its way through the regulatory process after more than three years. Enbridge still must get several additional permits. The administration of Gov. Tim Walz is appealing the PUC approval.
Other energy companies including Xcel, CenterPoint and Freeborn Wind Energy also spent heavily, mostly on lobbying the PUC.
The total spent to influence the PUC by all interested parties — nearly $15.3 million — is the highest amount ever, according to the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board.
Other kinds of lobbying of the Legislature and the executive branch by companies, trade associations, unions, nonprofits and other groups totaled more than $60 million, which is the lowest since 2012.
The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and the Minnesota Business Partnership — which represents the state’s largest companies like 3M and Target — were the next two biggest spenders on lobbying after Enbridge, together shelling out about $3.3 million as they tried to improve the state’s tax and regulatory climate for their members.
Rounding out the top 10 in spending were tobacco giant RAI Services and local government lobbying groups League of Minnesota Cities and Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities.
The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees and Education Minnesota — two large unions representing public workers — both made the top 20 in lobbying spending, in the face of a GOP-controlled Legislature.