Regular readers of this blog will not be surprised to hear that the GOP-led Natural Resources committee of the House of Representatives followed the Energy and Commerce Committee’s lead in voting to advance a bill designed to circumvent normal process and force approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. Even more astute readers will also not be surprised to hear what’s behind this vote, as so many others promoting the tar sands pipeline: Big Oil cash.
The House Natural Resources Committee voted today on H.R. 3, a bill spearheaded by Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE), that promotes the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. This vote result was not unexpected — with the GOP majority in the House, it was to be expected that this vote would go in the way of Big Oil and the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. It also is not unexpected that those voting in favor of the dangerous pipeline would have received generous amounts of campaign contributions from oil industry interests.
But what might be surprising is how supremely huge a gap there is between the massive Big Oil money behind those on the Natural Resources Committee voting in favor of the terribly problematic tar sands pipeline project and the limited amount behind those against the bill today.
Turns out, those voting for H.R. 3 (and thus, in favor of forcing approval of Keystone XL) today have received on average $141,501 in campaign contributions from Big Oil interests in their political careers. Now, compared to the huge money Big Oil spends to buy Senators, this may not seem like a lot. But scale is important here.
To reiterate, according to our Dirty Energy Money database, those voting in Big Oil’s interests today received $141,501 on average in Big Oil political contributions in their careers. The amount received by those against? $12,663 on average. $141,501 vs. $12,663. Different scales by a full order of magnitude.
In other words, those voting in favor of Big Oil have received 11 TIMES MORE in Big Oil campaign contributions than the average amount of Big Oil money received by members of the House Natural Resources committee voting against H.R. 3.
Meanwhile, the pipeline itself remains under great scrutiny and the State Department is under great public pressure to reject the pipeline. In rapid succession, the Keystone XL decision-making process saw this past week:
- Pipeline opponents come out in the hundreds to testify at a public hearing in Nebraska, vastly outnumbering proponents;
- Over 1 million public comments were submitted opposing the pipeline; and
- The EPA itself issued a strong critique of the State Departments somewhat favorable analysis of the pipeline, calling it “insufficient” and raising environmental objections.
The decision couldn’t be clearer. As Nebraska rancher Randy Thompson asked of President Obama at the hearing in Grand Island, NE last week, “Is he gonna raise the heavy hand of Big Oil or is he going to raise the hand and the spirits of the American people?”