Monday, November 17, 2014

Keystone +Landrieu = Bad Politics

Last Friday the House passed a bill authorizing the Keystone Pipeline. The Senate is expected to pass its version of the bill on Tuesday. The timing of this sudden push for authorization is representative of all that is wrong with our politics.

For the past six years we have debated the plusses and minuses of allowing Canada to ship its oil across our borders. Proponents of the pipeline argue that the project will create 50,000 jobs and provide an economic boost to the economy. Opponents of the project counter that the pipeline simply allows Canada to ship its oil across our borders, produces only 10,000 temporary jobs, poses an ecological threat to our environment and affords little if any boost to the economy.

For his part, the president has spent the better part of his presidency stalling…awaiting one more economic or environmental study that would bring clarity to the debate. Now, two weeks after the mid-terms it appears that congress is fast tracking the issue to gain passage before the end of the year. Like it or not, the president will be forced to act.

So why the sudden rush to get something done on the Keystone Pipeline?

Mary Landrieu.

Mary Landrieu is the embattled Democratic senator from Louisiana who is in serious danger of losing her seat. She faces a runoff election in January against Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy. Recent polls have Landrieu trailing Cassidy by 16 points.
Earlier this year Landrieu co-sponsored a bill authoring the pipeline. You see the pipeline will bring Canadian crude oil to refineries located on the Gulf coast of Landrieu’s home state; providing local jobs and growing the local economy. Minority Leader Reid, ever the president’s gatekeeper, accommodated the president’s base by refusing to allow Landrieu’s bill to come to a vote.

We now turn the page to post mid-term politics. Democrats will lose control of the senate at year’s end. Landrieu, with her senate seat in serious jeopardy, is desperate to demonstrate to her constituents that she still has the power to make things happen. Reid wants to prevent Republicans from picking up an important 54th senate seat. Suddenly the very same Landrieu bill that Reid rejected earlier in the year will stand for a vote on the senate floor.

This vote has nothing to do with the merits of the pipeline. If not for Democrats cowering to the special interests of rich environmentalists, a debate on the merits could have been held months or even years ago. This vote is about politics. It’s about propping up a vulnerable senator before handing control of the senate over to the Republicans. It’s about a putting job security ahead of the country’s best interests. It’s about all that is wrong with our political system.

If the Keystone Pipeline bill passes it will find its way to the president’s desk for signature.

The president should sign or veto the bill based solely on its merits. Period!

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