By Joshua Altman - 01/25/12 09:33 PM EST
Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) called approval of the Keystone XL pipeline “a matter of life and death” for the billionaire Koch brothers as Democrats work to link GOP support for the controversial energy project to the conservative mega-donors.
"This for them should be a matter of life and death," said Markey in an interview with Martin Bashir on MSNBC Wednesday.
The Koch brothers — owners of the Kansas-based conglomerate Koch Industries — have backed numerous conservative causes including the Tea Party group Americans for Prosperity.
By linking the pipeline to the Koch brothers, Democrats hope to question GOP motives for supporting the project.
“The oil industry wants to take the dirtiest oil from Canada, bring it through a pipeline in the United States with no guarantee that it stays here in order to export it to the thirstiest markets across the planet with almost no benefit to us,” alleged Markey.
At a hearing Wednesday, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) suggested that Koch Industries could benefit financially from approval of the Alberta-to-Texas oil pipeline, and called for a minority hearing into the matter.
Philip Ellender, president of government and public affairs at Koch Companies Public Sector, strongly denied that the company stands to benefit from approval of the pipeline.
Last week, President Obama rejected a permit for the pipeline. House Republicans have vowed to consider measures to force the pipeline’s construction.
—Andrew Restuccia contributed to this story.