Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Crystal Ball Time: How Will Keystone XL Play Out?


The easiest part of the equation is the House. On January 9, the House took up an especially ugly bill written by Oil and Gas industry lobbyists and passed it 266-153 with every single Republican plus 28, mostly bribed, Democrats rallying against life on planet earth on behalf of quick wealth for a few fat cat oil execs. No news there.

Monday the Senate voted on cloture to end debate and move forward with a vote. That passed 63-32, 10 right-of-center Democrats plus Angus King voting with all the Republicans:
Michael Bennet (CO)
Tom Carper (DE)
Bob Casey (PA)
Joe Donnelly (IN)
Heidi Heitkamp (ND)
Angus King (I-ME)
Joe Manchin (WV)
Claire McCaskill (MO)
Jon Tester (MT)
Tom Udall (NM)
Mark Warner (VA)
Next, the Senate will vote on a series of amendments that sets the stage for the debate on energy policy and Climate Change going into the 2016 election cycle.
Senate Democrats opposed to the pipeline are offering amendments that they think will be tough for the GOP to vote against or that will play well in the 2016 elections.

In offering the measures, they think they can take advantage of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) pledge to run the Senate differently from Democrats by allowing members of both parties to offer amendments more freely.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), for example, plans to offer a nonbinding resolution on whether lawmakers agree with the 95 percent of scientists who say human activities contribute to climate change. [UPDATE: McConnell, breaking his pledge regarding an open amendment process, won't allow Bernie's resolution to come to vote, not wanting to embarrass his primitivist caucus into taking a public stand on reality.]

“There are lots of things that members of the Senate can disagree about, but I think we should not be disagreeing about what the scientific community tells us,” Sanders said in a brief interview with The Hill.

He said the scientific community is “virtually unanimous” in its opinion that greenhouse gasses produced by industry are warming the climate and causing “irreparable damage.”

“I am going to offer an amendment which will allow Republicans to tell the American people whether or not they agree,” he said.

Another promised amendment would require companies transporting crude oil through the Keystone pipeline to pay into an oil spill cleanup fund. And Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey (D) is expected to offer a measure that would ban the export of any oil shipped through the pipeline.
Here's the text of Bernie's resolution that McConnell won't allow a vote on:

It is the sense of Congress that Congress is in agreement with the opinion of virtually the entire worldwide scientific community and a growing number of top national security experts, economists, and others that –

(1) climate change is real;

(2) climate change is caused by human activities;

(3) climate change has already caused devastating problems in the United States and around the world; and

(4) it is imperative that the United States transform its energy system away from fossil fuels and toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy.

And that brings us to the veto and the steps that follow the veto. The White House has already said President Obama will veto this particular bill. Big Oil is 2 votes shy in the Senate from being able to override the veto. What then? I suspect that Obama will be one to making a deal with Big Oil and their Republican clients. I bet Obama would sign on in return for Congress passing a real jobs-creating infrastructure bill, as long as a few odious aspects of the legislation as removed-- like the exemption of TransCanada from paying their share into America's Oil Spill Liability Fund, what Ted Lieu called "giving a foreign corporation a license-to-leak." Once the bill is cleaned up, I'm betting Obama would be more than willing to sit down with McConnell, sell out the Democrats who voted NO and make a deal.

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At 11:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only surprise is how long (a week?) for
Ms Turtle to break his "pledge."

Any evidence of Obumma previously making a deal of the (presumably positive) proportions you predict?

John Puma

At 12:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think Obama is vetoing this bill because of any of its provisions. He's just fine with drilling, fracking, and running pipelines up and down the entire countryside until we choke or fry.

He's vetoing the bill because, as he has put it, "there's a State Dept review process in place that will be followed." This bill tries to make an end run around State Dept prerogatives. In other words, he's against the bill because it's a challenge to Executive Branch authority.

At 5:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

GOP will successfully peel off enough Blue Dogs and New Dems to override an Obama veto, assuming he would be brave enough to even consider it. He will lamely complain, but he will be secretly relieved that he was able to give his GOP buds something they have wanted for years. Maybe then, they would contribute to his library.


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