The GOP is attempting to attach completely un-related bills to those which would extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits.
To get their votes in favor of extending unemployment and the payroll tax cut, they want the tar sands pipeline pushed through and they want additional cuts to pollution regulation by the US EPA.
They’re targeting EPA air pollution rules that regulate emissions from industrial boilers.
And they will attach a bill that strips the President’s and State Department’s authority to decide on whether the tar sands pipeline goes through. It would force the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to make a decision in 30 days, and substantially restricting FERC’s discretion to reject the project in the process.
According to Politico’s reports from a closed-door meeting of House Republicans:
Speaker John Boehner referred to the package he’s putting forward as turning "chicken-sh – into chicken salad."
Translation: He’s going to pass President Barack Obama’s preferred tax cut, but he wants some skin from Democrats for it.
That skin is the Keystone XL pipeline. The GOP is attaching it to a "must pass" bill that will help the neediest Americans.
Since then, GOP members of the House and Senate have been trying to fast-track the pipeline permitting process.
On November 30, Senate Republicans introduced a bill to try to force the President’s hand on the issue – requiring a decision on whether or not to proceed with the project within 60 days of its passage. Two days later, House Republicans released plans to expedite the permitting process and to take the decision away from the State Department and to grant it to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
"Pressure from Big Oil and the Chamber of Commerce should not be allowed to override thorough consideration of the dangerous consequences of the KXL pipeline," says Fran Teplitz of Green America. "Green America opposes construction of the pipeline due to the perils it presents for human health, the environment and climate change, as well as the tremendous setback the pipeline would mean for development of our domestic, renewable energy sector."
And it would undermine efforts to halt climate change.
The GOP and oil industry argue the pipeline would create jobs quickly, but their claims have been countered as greatly exaggerated.
Last year, 15,700 Americans nationwide worked for electric and hybrid vehicle manufacturers and their suppliers, according to the Brookings Institution.
And about 20% of all autoworkers – 150,000 Americans – are making fuel efficient engines, electric and hybrid car parts or deploying E.V. charging infrastructure, according to an analysis from the United Auto Workers, the National Resources Defense Council and the National Wildlife Federation.
Alternative fuels that run in conventional gasoline engines are also spurring employment. The biodiesel industry is expected to support 31,000 jobs this year, for example.
In contrast, TransCanada estimates its pipeline will create "hundreds" of permanent jobs, and 20,000 temporary jobs. The State Dept revised that figure down to 5000-6000 temporary construction jobs.
It’s interesting that the GOP rejected funding for high speed rail, which will create millions of jobs, in favor of the tar sands pipeline, which would create so many fewer jobs, while making it that much harder for clean energy alternatives to compete.
And a national network of over 500 local government officials – the Climate Communities coalition – believes the pipeline would undermine their efforts to advance clean transportation initiatives at the local, state and national levels.
The US delay of the tar sands pipeline has sent Canada looking to build a route going west to the Pacific where it faces strong opposition.
You can sign this petition, which tells leaders Reid and Pelosi not to make back room deals on the tar sands pipeline: