Senate Holds Vote on Keystone Pipeline


Last week the U.S. Senate voted, symbolically, to endorse the Keystone Pipeline. Note that while this vote won’t actually get the pipeline built, or advance it’s progress, it is a good sign that 17 Democrats joined 45 Republicans in support of the pipeline:

Advocates of the proposed pipeline scored a symbolic victory Friday when 62 lawmakers voted for an amendment backing the project to bring oil from Canadian tar sands projects to Gulf Coast refineries.

Seventeen Democrats supported Sen. John Hoeven’s (R-N.D.) amendment.

They include Democrats that may face tough 2014 reelection fights, such as Max Baucus (Mont.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Mark Warner (Va.), Kay Hagan (N.C.) and Mark Pryor (Ark.).

However, the tally also included a number of Democrats outside this group, such as Michael Bennet (Colo.), who chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and freshmen Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Joe Donnelly (Ind.), to name a few.

Separate votes that provided a referendum of sorts on imposing taxes or fees on industrial carbon emissions also split Democrats, though not as much as the Keystone vote.

So we pulled 17 of the 53 Senate Democrats, or about 1/3 of them, into voting symbolically in support of the Keystone Pipeline.

What’s the hold up on its approval? It’s hard to see how President Obama would not judge this to be in the “national interest” if it were garnering support from 100% of Republicans and 33% of the Senate Democrats.

Recall last year, the House of Representatives voted in support of the pipeline, securing a big margin despite other non-Keystone amendments:

House lawmakers on Thursday approved a plan to authorize the Keystone XL pipeline and expand drilling offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The 237-187 victory for Republican leaders — as part of one portion of a much larger energy and infrastructure strategy — was a relatively painless start to what has become a difficult endeavor for the overall package.

By voice vote, lawmakers on Thursday approved a bipartisan amendment from Gulf Coast representatives directing 80 percent of Clean Water Act fines tied to the BP oil spill to go toward Gulf restoration efforts.

They also easily approved Republican amendments to quicken federal environmental reviews for renewable energy projects on federal lands and waters, and for a geothermal exploration test project.

Again, it’s hard to see how this pipeline won’t be approved eventually. But it’s unfortunate to see the bellyaching over a fairly standard part of our energy infrastructure.


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