As is typically the case in election years, 2018 was a big year for lobbying efforts in Minnesota, with advocacy groups, nonprofits and companies spending big to promote their interests amid hotly contested Congressional midterms, legislative races and a gubernatorial election that gave Minnesota a new governor.
Minnesota’s 25 biggest spenders on lobbying collectively spent $24.6 million on efforts to influence public policy at the local, regional and state level last year, a net increase of $3 million or 13.9 percent over 2017’s total, according to data from the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board.
That increase can be attributed to Enbridge Energy Partners, which more than doubled its lobbying efforts from 2017 ($5.34 million) to 2018 ($11.08 million).Outside of Enbridge and a few other organizations – mostly energy interests – many of this year’s list makers spent less than they did in 2017.
Energy companies, in fact, made up three of the top five lobbying spenders, led by Enbridge with expenditures more than five times greater than the total spent by the next biggest spender, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.
“In 2018, more than 98 percent of Enbridge’s Minnesota lobbying expenses were related to matters before the Public Utilities Commission – primarily the Line 3 Replacement Project,” Enbridge said in a statement released following its disclosure of expenditures on March 15. The $2.6 billion, 330-mile project would replace Enbridge’s aging pipeline across the northern portion of the state. Opponents of the project, which still faces regulatory and court challenges, include environmental groups, as well as state and tribal officials.
Enbridge wasn’t alone in making waves with its lobbying efforts in 2018.
New to the Business Journal’s List of Biggest Spenders on Lobbying was Freeborn Wind Energy, which slid into seventh on The List with $700,000 spent last year. A proposed wind farm project in Freeborn County and parts of Iowa, Freeborn Wind Energy is led by Chicago-based Invenergy with Xcel Energy Services Inc. contracted as developer. The project aims to begin construction in Minnesota by 2020, but is currently in the process of acquiring permits from county and state agencies that are required before any development can start. Xcel Energy Services landed on The List at No. 4, having spent $1.01 million on lobbying efforts in Minnesota last year, which was down slightly from 2017 expenditures of $1.07 million.
Other newcomers on The List included tobacco company RAI Services Co., the Coalition of Minnesota Businesses Inc. and the Insurance Federation of Minnesota.
The full List is available to Business Journal subscribers.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding