Saturday, January 10, 2015

28 House Dems Sold Us Out On Keystone XL Yesterday... Will Obama?


It's not news around here that the Republican House passed some Keystone XL Pipeline legislation again. Everyone knew they would and everyone knew they would do it the first week of the new session. It passed 226-153. And it isn't news that every single Republican voted for it. What about our centurions in the Democratic Party? Well, 153 voted against it. But 28 crossed the aisle and voted with the GOP. I bolded the names of the new members, but here's the list of the Members who are willing to keep destroying the planet for whatever transactional business their careerist agendas dictate:
• Brad Ashford (Blue Dog-NE)
Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog-GA)
Robert Brady (PA)
Cheri Bustos (Blue Dog-IL)
Jim Clyburn (SC)
Jim Cooper (Blue Dog-TN)
Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)
Mike Doyle (PA)
• Gwen Graham (Blue Dog-FL)
Al Green (TX)
Gene Green (TX)
Sheila Jackson Lee (TX)
Dan Lipinski (Blue Dog-IL)
Dave Loebsack (IA)
Sean Patrick Maloney (New Dem-NY)
Patrick Murphy (New Dem-FL)
Rick Nolan (MN)
• George Norcross' brother (New Dem-NJ)
Colin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)
Cedric Richmond (New Dem-LA)
Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR)
David Scott (Blue Dog-GA)
Terri Sewell (New Dem-AL)
Albio Sires (NJ)
Marc Veasey (TX)
Filemon Vela (New Dem-TX)
Tim Walz (MN)
It's worth noting that when the House voted on Keystone last time, November 14, there were 31 Democrats who voted with the Republicans. Several had been defeated less than 2 weeks earlier and others retired. Obviously the two Blue America candidates elected in November, Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) and Ted Lieu (D-CA) both voted NO. Bonnie told her constituents after the that that she was "deeply concerned about the environmental impact of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Approval of this project will increase carbon pollution and threaten our nation’s critical water resources. Furthermore, this legislation does not protect the American people from potential leaks from the highly corrosive crude in the pipeline... Americans accept all the risk and no reward. American taxpayers would likely be on the hook for any clean-ups... I strongly support infrastructure projects that create good-paying jobs and put New Jerseyans back to work, but the negative implications of the Keystone pipeline strongly outweigh the negligible, so-called benefits of the project. Keystone creates virtually no long term jobs, will have little effect on gas prices, and tramples on our environmental laws. We need sustainable jobs that will drive long term economic growth. Keystone does not do that.”

Ted had a similar perspective and, like the vast majority of voters in his L.A. district, opposed the building on the pipeline and bringing all that toxic tar sands down into America. "The Keystone XL Pipeline bill has several flaws," he told us, "including a massive gift to TransCanada. The bill exempts TransCanada from paying into America's Oil Spill Liability Fund. Why are the authors of the bill giving a foreign corporation a license-to-leak?"

Good question, maybe you should ask the Republicans, whose congressional candidates took, in 2014 alone, $25,215,857 from Big Oil and Gas. In comparison Democratic candidates only got $4,336,500. Money for Democrats, of course, was micro-targeted to the shills who crossed the aisle Friday and voted for the Pipeline. Since 1990, these Democratic backers of Keystone XL received the biggest Republican-sized chunks of change from Big Oil:
Gene Green (TX)- $617,263
Henry Cuellar (TX)- $397,275
Jim Costa (CA)- $317,199
Sheila Jackson Lee (TX)- $224,250
Mike Doyle (PA)- $170,512
By way of comparison, John Boehner (R-OH) accepted $1,470,688 in legalistic bribes from the industry and Joe Barton (R-TX) has taken in $1,854,505. Do you think these sums of money influenced the outcome Friday? Believe me, if Big Oil didn't think the bribes work, they wouldn't be handing out the checks. Obama says he'll veto the bill if it reaches his desk. The bill. But Keystone Pipeline altogether? Maybe not. Ryan Lizza, writing for the New Yorker yesterday after the vote thinks there may be a deal in the works.
At first glance, it’s absurd that approval of a Canadian corporation’s pipeline project is the new Republican Congress’s highest priority. The benefit to the U.S. economy from the construction of the pipeline would be modest—a few thousand temporary jobs created during its construction and a few dozen permanent jobs once it’s up and running. Republicans have long argued that the pipeline would help reduce fuel prices, a tenuous claim that is now beside the point because the price of a gallon of gas is at a five-year low.

Still, there is a scenario in which Boehner and McConnell’s decision to start with Keystone might be encouraging. The Obama Administration immediately announced that the President would veto the legislation. But the veto statement was silent on the merits of the project itself. Obama simply objected to Congress interfering with the pipeline-approval process, which has historically been left to the executive branch. The President’s exclusive right to approve cross-border pipelines may be such a fundamental principle to the Administration that the veto statement is the beginning and end of the debate. (Republicans don’t have the necessary sixty-seven votes to overturn an Obama veto.)

But what if the White House saw the fight over Keystone as an opportunity for a larger deal? Keystone XL is one of the few G.O.P. priorities in which the philosophical gulf between Obama and congressional Republicans is relatively narrow. In private, Obama has been dismissive of environmentalist claims that building Keystone XL would significantly affect climate change, and his State Department, with some caveats, came to the same conclusion in an environmental-impact statement. In U.S. and Canadian diplomatic circles, officials regularly discuss whether there could be some kind of a deal between the two countries. For example, Canada might make a more ambitious pledge to reduce carbon pollution in return for U.S. approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

So why doesn’t Obama have that discussion with Congress instead? What would the G.O.P. be willing to trade to get Keystone approved? A carbon tax? A large infrastructure project? Codifying the E.P.A.’s climate regulations into law? From the White House’s perspective, the Keystone XL pipeline should be an ideal policy to give away in a trade: it’s a major issue that Republicans care a great deal about but one that Obama seems to view as a sideshow. (And if world oil prices remain low, Keystone may be entirely moot because production in the expensive-to-develop Canadian oil sands might not be economically viable.)

Obama’s final decision on the matter is fast approaching. The last major bureaucratic step is a State Department review of the “national interest” in the project, which had been postponed while a Nebraska court considered a challenge to the route of the pipeline through that state. On Friday, the court ratified that route, clearing the way for the State Department to complete its work. It is possible, and perhaps even more likely than not, that soon after Obama vetoed congressional legislation forcing approval of Keystone XL he would then approve the project on his own. But will he get anything in return? If the Republican Congress and President Obama can’t figure out a way to cut a deal on this issue, don’t expect the next two years to look much different from the last two.

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At 2:50 PM, Anonymous Exit 135 said...

Please stop calling Patrick Murphy (New Dem-FL) a Democrat of any kind. He is a republican. Patrick Murphy R-FL cast a similar odious vote last week, and the week before that.

Nancy Pelosi should move his parking spot to the National Zoo and his office to the Naval Shipyard.

At 7:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obama is no Democrat either. He told Univision that he's more like a "moderate 1985 Reagan Republican". His actions while in office confirm he's more of a Republican than not, and he will betray the American people - AGAIN!

At 1:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obumma threatened to veto the bill only on the grounds that it attempts superseded the executive branch's authority to make the decision.

That process has been ongoing for a few years now. At virtually the same moment as the vote in question the Nebraska supreme court, removing the last remaining obstacle, ruled in favor of the pipeline.

IF Obumma vetoes the bill he will then immediately announce his (and the State Dept's) own approval of pipeline.

John Puma


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