The Keystone Pipeline is dead…at least for this year.
The Senate failed to pass a bill authorizing construction of the much debated pipeline by a 59-41 vote. All 45 Republicans voted for the measure. But only 14 Democrats were willing to cross party lines in support; leaving the bill one vote short of the 60 needed for passage.
Presumptive Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to bring the measure up for vote again in January when the newly elected Republican majority will assume control of the chamber.
Word from the White House is that the president would veto the bill if it reached his desk.
Over the past several years we have listened to a heated debate over positive and negative aspects of allowing Canada to transport its tar sands crude oil across our country via this pipeline. The most common arguments have centered on growing jobs and the economy versus concerns of environmental and ecological damage. This debate misses a larger point.
Recent geological findings of oil reserves within our borders have determined that the United States has the capability of becoming the world’s largest oil producer by 2025. At the same time we have agreement on both sides of the political aisle that we need to become less dependent on fossil fuels and increase our investment in the development of clean renewable energy sources. Thus far we have done nothing but throw a lot of partisan hot air at this important issue. Our elected officials are voting on energy policy in a politically charged vacuum that could produce costly long term consequences.
We need to develop a long term energy plan. Do we invest heavily in the development of the massive oil and natural gas reserves that that lay beneath our feet? Can we follow this path in way that is safe for the environment? Do we turn away from fossil fuels and invest in the development of renewable sources of energy like wind, solar and nuclear? Or do we co-ordinate our investments between the safe extraction/use of fossil fuels and the development of alternate and perhaps more efficient energy sources?
Today’s vote should have been over whether or not the Keystone Pipeline is a viable component of a long term energy strategy…not a strategy in and of itself.