Later today the Senate is expected to debate what on the surface is a bipartisan energy efficiency bill, but pro-KXL Senators could try and push through a vote on the controversial pipeline as an amendment to the bill.
It is also possible that Senators Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D), may push through a stand-alone vote.
As Oil Change International pointed out last week, Landrieu and Hoeven are pushing a pro-KXL bill, that is cosponsored by the entire Republican Senate caucus and 11 Democratic Senators who between them have received a staggering $21 million in Big Oil cash.
That is a shocking amount of money which is corroding the political process in favour of Big Oil at the expense of the climate and democracy.
But Big Oil is not finished splashing the cash and is trying to influence those Senators who remain opposed to KXL or who are yet to signal which way they will vote.
The industry’s main lobby group, the American Petroleum Institute, is “pulling out all the stops” in a new advertising campaign that is targeted at a few crucial Senate Democrats who remain undecided.
The pro-KXL lobby needs four more Democrats to overcome a potential filibuster from Senators opposed to the pipeline on environmental grounds.
The new TV and radio advertising campaign started at the end of last week in five key states and will run until tomorrow: Colorado, Delaware, Minnesota, New Mexico and South Dakota.
There are several Democrats from these states who the pro-KXL lobby is trying to persuade to vote yes to the pipeline, including Tim Johnson (SD), Michael Bennet (CO), Tom Carper (DE), Chris Coons (DE), Bill Nelson (FL) and Mark Warner (VA).
Although Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid opposes the KXL, he has said publicly that would allow a vote on the issue.
“We are certainly going to use up all of our outreach options at this point,” Cindy Schild, from the American Petroleum Institute. “We want to convince and show senators that their constituents want them to do the right thing.”
It may be the right thing for the oil industry, but it would be disastrous for the climate.
If the Senate approves the KXL bill, the Republican-controlled House would probably follow suit. What is unclear is whether Obama would then veto the decision.
Meanwhile, the ongoing delay is beginning to hurt the company that wants to build KXL, TransCanada, which has indicated that it might have to start laying workers off if there is no decision soon.
“There will be several hundred [people] that will be impacted by this decision, both employees and contractors,” the company’s CEO Russ Girling said at the company’s annual meeting in Calgary last week. “At this point in time, there’s a very low probability that we would have a decision in time to meet this year’s summer construction period.”
This may just be another scare story from the oil industry. It has consistently tried to portray the pipeline as a job creator, despite the fact that the State Department found it would create only 35 permanent jobs and other studies suggest the pipeline could destroy more jobs than it creates.
If you want to stop the KXl, take action and contact your Senators today.