The U.S. Senate has rejected the most recent attempt to go forward with the Keystone XL pipeline. Amendment #1537, proposed by Senator Hoeven (R-ND), would have required approval of the controversial project without necessary environmental and other reviews. The amendment was was supported 56-42 but failed as 60 votes were needed in order to pass.
Another controversial amendment, Vitter #1535, was also defeated today by a margin of 64-34. It would have allowed new offshore drilling along the entire nation’s coastline.
But the influence of Dirty Energy Money on the actions of those who did vote for the Hoeven Amendment is clear.
According to the data on the Dirty Energy Money Website, the 56 senators who voted for the Keystone XL amendment have received 500% more money from oil interests in the current Congress than those who voted no. The average yes voting senator took 285% more than the average senator voting no. Together these senators have received $27.5 million from fossil fuel interests since 1999, $2.3 million during the current Congress.
Keystone XL is a poster child for destructive projects championed in Congress for the benefit of Big Oil. First, the project will do nothing to lower gas prices in America. Not only have the six existing pipelines bringing Canadian oil into the US had no impact on gas prices, but it’s unclear how much of the pipeline’s deliveries to the Gulf Coast will actually stay in the domestic market.
Second, the job benefits are way overstated. In January, TransCanada stated that Keystone will create 20,000 construction and manufacturing jobs, and 465,000 jobs throughout the U.S. economy. Cornell University Global Labor Institute analyzed TransCanada’s numbers and concluded that the project will create closer to 2500-4600 temporary construction jobs.
So why is there so much support for Keystone? Someone stands to benefit. Big Oil. The refineries linked to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline as committed shippers will receive between $1 billion and $1.8 billion in tax breaks. But just yesterday, the head of the American Petroleum Institute was on Capitol Hill lying – claiming that the oil industry does not receive any subsidies, and saying that the Keystone XL pipeline and more drilling will lower gas prices.
We need to reduce our dependence on all oil, not just foreign oil. And we need to hold our politicians accountable to the voices of the people, not Big Oil. Today the many won over the money. But it was close.