Keystone XL: Don't count it out yet

Keystone XL vote failed in the Senate yesterday, but Republicans are promising they'll pass the bill early next year when they assume control of the Senate. Keystone XL has shown Democratic divisions, pitting environmentalists against energy advocates.

Carolyn Kaster/AP/File
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and the Keystone XL oil pipeline bill sponsor, joined by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., , left, and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., right, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday.

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is promising the new Republican majority will quickly resurrect Keystone XL pipeline legislation killed by Democrats, potentially setting up an early 2015 veto confrontation with President Barack Obama.

"I look forward to the new Republican majority taking up and passing the Keystone jobs bill early in the new year," the Kentucky Republican said Tuesday, shortly after the bill fell one vote short of the 60 votes needed to advance. He was joined by incoming Senate Energy Committee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who said the fight wasn't over.

The vote was a blow to Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who had forced the issue onto the Senate agenda, and who faces difficult odds in a Dec. 6 runoff election against Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy. "I'm going to fight for the people of my state until the day that I leave, and I hope that will not be soon," she said.

Republicans are likely to have enough votes to assure the bill's passage in January, when they will have at least 53 seats — 54 if Cassidy wins the Louisiana runoff.

"If you look at new Congress, you can count four more (GOP seats) right away, and there may be others," Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota, the lead sponsor of the bill, said after the 59-41 vote Tuesday. "You can see we're well over 60."

Hoeven acknowledged that Republicans would need 67 votes to override a veto, but said one possibility is to include Keystone in a larger energy package that may not prompt a veto threat.

The vote was one of the last acts of this Senate controlled by the Democrats. It is expected to complete its work by mid-December.

Cassidy, Landrieu's Republican opponent, said Louisiana families "need better jobs, better wages and better benefits," and the pipeline would provide them.

 

Democratic divisions were on vivid display in a bill that pitted environmentalists against energy advocates.

While Obama opposes the measure, likely 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton has repeatedly refused to take a position. Most recently, her spokesman did not respond to two requests over the weekend to do so.

The project would move oil from Canada into the United States and eventually to the Texas Gulf Coast. Supporters say it would create jobs and ease American dependence on Middle East oil. A government environmental impact statement also predicts that a pipeline would result in less damage to the climate than moving the same oil by rail.

Critics argue that the drilling itself is environmentally harmful, and said much of the Canadian crude would be exported with little or no impact on America's drive for energy stability.

Some question whether the pipeline is still as relevant as oil prices plummet and US output rises. As the Monitor's Jared Gilmour reported Wednesday:

[B]eyond political theatrics, Keystone XL is less relevant to global oil markets today than it was when it was first proposed six years ago. Alberta oil sands and crude from North Dakota and Montana are getting to market even without the pipeline – by rail and other stopgap methods. Booming US oil production has lessened the need for Canadian oil, and plummeting oil prices have undercut the profitability of the oil Keystone XL would transport.

At the White House, press secretary Josh Earnest said the measure is something "the president doesn't support because the president believes that this is something that should be determined through the State Department and the regular process that is in place to evaluate projects like this."

After the vote, five people were handcuffed and led off by Capitol police outside the Senate chamber after breaking into loud yowls. One was wearing what appeared to be Native American beads and feathers in his hair.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Keystone XL: Don't count it out yet
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Latest-News-Wires/2014/1119/Keystone-XL-Don-t-count-it-out-yet
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe