Keystone Pipeline Sails Through House, Senate is Next

Suddenly, the "do nothing" House of Representatives – the least productive by far in the history of Congress – lunged into action, easily passing legislation today that approves the Keystone pipeline.

It passed 252-161, with 31 Democrats voting in favor of it. The Senate is expected to vote on Tuesday.

What’s so ironic is that the House bill is sponsored by Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) who faces Mary Landrieu (D-LA) in a runoff for her Senate seat on December 7. 

The issue of a Keystone vote arose because Landrieu is desperately trying position herself as the most oil-friendly candidate in advance of the runoff – but she’s introducing Cassidy’s bill for the Senate vote – whaat?

Whatever, the House is more than happy to oblige, having voted 8 times to approve Keystone since they gained the majority in 2010. And too many Democrats are willing to join them.

If they were really concerned about the jobs Keystone will create (35 permanent jobs, 2000 temporary construction jobs), they would support the EXPIRE Act, currently languishing in Congress. It would renew the wind PTC (the US wind industry dropped from 80,000 to 50,000 jobs without it!) and tax credits for residential and business energy efficiency upgrades, manufacturers of energy-efficient appliances and other clean energy and energy efficiency provisions.

The House has refused to act on just about anything, somehow turning it into a winning strategy in the midterm elections:

Congress Least Productive Ever

"It’s time for the Democratic party to make a choice. Either they can be the party that stands up to Big Oil, combats climate change, and protects America’s future. Or they can be a party of melts away every time the fossil fuel industry applies a little heat," says Jamie Henn, co-founder of 350.org.

"Senator Mary Landrieu represents the worst of the Big Oil Democrats. Her home state of Louisiana is losing a football field worth of land into the Gulf of Mexico every hour, but she always chooses her oil donors over protecting the environment," he adds. 

"Democrats didn’t get a thumping in the midterm elections because they confidently ran on a bold set of principles and voters rejected them. They lost because voters had no sense of their vision. People are sick of tired of Washington and they took it out on the party in power," says Henn. "If they want to energize their base for 2016, they’re going to have to start showing a bit more spine – especially when it comes to the fossil fuel industry. Women, Latinos, African-Americans and young people all overwhelmingly support action on climate change and laws that protect our environment." 

Will President Obama veto it?

Obama has always been wishy-washy on Keystone, never acknowledging its obvious climate-related problems. He should have out-right rejected it years ago, and now he will have to make a decision on whether to veto it.

Today, he gave his clearest statement to date on how he feels about approving the pipeline, indicating there’s nothing in it for the US (duh!):

"Understand what this project is: it is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else. It doesn’t have an impact on U.S. gas prices. If my Republican friends really want to focus on what’s good for the American people in terms of job creation and lower energy costs, we should be engaging in a conversation about what are we doing to produce even more homegrown energy? I’m happy to have that conversation."

Josh Earnest, Obama’s press secretary repeated what we’ve heard so many times – that the president wants the process to play out, referring to the State Department’s third environmental review that’s in process.  The pipeline is only in our nation’s interest if it doesn’t substantially contribute to the causes of climate change. There is also no permit for the route through Nebraska because of litigation there by landowners who don’t want their property rights taken away through eminent domain.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe recognizes the authorization of the Keystone pipeline as "an act of war," their president announced today. The tribe has yet to be consulted on a pipeline that would go through their land.

"The House has now signed our death warrants and the death warrants of our children and grandchildren. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe will not allow this pipeline through our lands," says President Scott. "We are outraged at the lack of intergovernmental cooperation. We are a sovereign nation and we are not being treated as such. We will close our reservation borders to Keystone XL. Authorizing Keystone XL is an act of war against our people."

Earlier this year, Rosebud and other tribes of the Great Sioux Nation adopted tribal resolutions opposing Keystone XL.

"The Lakota people have always been stewards of this land," says Scott. "We feel it is imperative that we provide safe and responsible alternative energy resources not only to tribal members but to non-tribal members as well. We need to stop focusing and investing in risky fossil fuel projects like TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. We need to start remembering that the earth is our mother and  stop polluting her and start taking steps to preserve the land, water, and our grandchildren’s future."

Read our article, No End To Greed: Tar Sands Expands Into Crucial Caribou Habitat. 

"Tell your Senator to VOTE NO on Keystone next week!!:

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