Nel's New Day

November 18, 2014

Senate Denies Keystone Pipeline

The senate Republicans lost the Keystone XL pipeline—for now. In an effort to get Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) re-elected, 14 Democrats voted for the bill to support the movement of tar sands crude oil from Canada across the United States to the Texas coast where it gets shipped overseas. The proposed route endangers a large percentage of fresh water in the United States, something that 41 senators understood. The 59 votes were short just one needed to clear a filibuster.

Sen. Angus King (I-ME) said, “Congress is not — nor should it be — in the business of legislating the approval or disapproval of a construction project.” Debate lasted six hours. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said, “From my state’s point of view, it’s all harm.” Sixty votes would have overridden the authority of the State Department to determine the pipeline’s fate.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that his GOP members are “committed to getting Keystone approved,” and that party has next year’s majority. The question is whether Democrats will vote the same way if they’re not trying to save Landrieu’s seat. Even the 63 votes that McConnell hopes for don’t make the bill veto-proof.

Keystone pipeline information you might not find in the mainstream media:

Jobs: Russ Girling, CEO of TransCanda that wants to build the Keystone XL pipeline, finally admitted the project would have only 50 jobs after it is built, but he tried to praise the nearly 9,000 jobs for the building. That’s actually fewer than 4,500 jobs per year. And TransCanada has finally admitted it. Keep these numbers in mind when the GOP and Blue Dog Dems promise “jobs, jobs, jobs.” There won’t be any jobs from making the steel pipe because those have already been purchased—from India.

Landrieu: Democrats who think that voting in favor of the pipeline need to consider that not one job—out of either the 3,900 in building the pipeline for a couple of years or the 50 jobs to maintain it after that—will be in Louisiana. Do they think that the state’s voters are so dumb that they’ll vote for Landrieu to get a few jobs in other states while their own gas prices go up?

Oil Spills: During the past four months, there have been 90 pipeline spills reported. Reports come from the corporations that own the pipeline, and not one reported found any affect on wildlife or waterways. It’s a miracle! Or more likely bad reporting from the companies in charge of admitting they screwed up.

War: The pipeline’s current trajectory crosses the Great Sioux Nation (Oceti Sakowin) Treaty lands, Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, and Congress failed to consult with this Native American nation. Tribal President Cyril Scott of the Rosebud Sioux (Sicangu Lakota Oyate) reservation declared last week’s House vote to authorize the pipeline an “act of war” on a “sovereign nation” because it breaks the treaty.

Starting in January, the GOP will earn its nickname of “Grand Oil Party.” New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, has a plan to eliminate any federal oversight of constructing border-crossing pipelines. McConnell plans to stop the EPA from any carbon restraints on the use of coal, ban federal oversight of fracking, allow drilling off the shores of Alaska and Virginia, and sell all the U.S. crude oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) out of the country.

Republicans have a vision that depleting the country of resources and using it for a fossil fuels conduit from Canada for sale overseas will build national power and prestige. Christie’s foreign policy was introduced in Mexico which plans to allow U.S. firms to develop its oil and gas fields for the first time since 1938.

In order to accomplish their agenda—and continue to fill their coffers from oil and gas companies—Republicans must continue their strong denial of any climate change. The oil and gas industry was the ninth largest supplier of campaign funds for the last election cycle, sending 87 percent of the $51 million to Republican candidates. Koch Industries provided $9.4 million of that donation. The coal industry sent another $10 million, 95 percent to the same party. Koch Industries provided $9.4 million of that donation. This money is only the tip of the iceberg of donations to conservatives. Secretive super PACs and supposedly non-profit are not bound by rules of direct donations. Two years ago, the Koch brothers send $407 million to these political groups, and they certainly sent as much, if not more, this year.

Leading recipients of this money were House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and McConnell as well as Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO), who just took a senate seat for the coming year from environmental Mark Udall. Coal money went to both Boehner and McConnell as well as helping elect Reps. Shelley Moore Capito and David McKinley (R-WV).

Energy drives the economies in the 13 red states that export more than they import: Wyoming, West Virginia, Texas, North Dakota, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Alaska, Pennsylvania, Montana, Arkansas, Utah, and Kentucky. In the upcoming Congress, 19 of the 26 senators from these states are Republicans; one is an independent. Five of the states drove out Democrats in the senate this year. All the GOP senators will be trying to remove any federal regulations in the coming year because states have far more lax policies.

The GOP also wants massive fossil fuel extraction because members believe that it provides greater security. “Saudi America” should lower the cost of energy in the United States and give the nation more control in dealing with Iran and Russia. The current ban on exporting crude oil was adopted 40 years ago because of the Arab oil embargo of 1973-74. Exports of LNG is controlled by the lack of facilities and regulations that block rapid construction. Oil and gas are more expensive in Europe and Asia, and the industry wants to make money through exports. At the same time, integrating the North American oil systems would give U.S. companies much greater control of Mexican and Canadian production.

People who voted for GOP candidates because of promises of greater energy production at home didn’t understand that diverting output to foreign countries will cause prices in the U.S. to rise. Massive exports will also increase greenhouse gas emissions around the world. The result is a fossil-fuels-forever planet—at least briefly until everyone dies.

Almost all scientists, at least 97 percent of them, agree that the planet cannot be heated more than an average increase of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit during this century. The GOP carbon agenda raises that number by two to three times, making parts of the planet uninhabitable and causing deadly shortages in food and water. Although the warming seems to have slowed down during the past few years, the oceans are absorbing the heat almost as much as possible. The warming will soon resume, and the GOP plans to accelerate the process.

Some people who know how destructive the pipeline is would vote for it with the excuse that stopping the pipeline won’t stop the Koch brothers from producing the crude oil that is taking down the planet. These people could be compared to a person hired to kill someone else, that if they don’t do it, somebody else will. It’s a pitiful excuse to obliterate the only world we have.

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