The PJ Tatler

Obama: 'Judge' Keystone on 'Whether or Not It Accelerates Climate Change'

As expected, the House today passed a bill from Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

The final tally was 252-161, with 31 Democrats crossing over to vote in favor and one Republican, Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.), voting “present.”

In the Senate, the incumbent facing Cassidy in a Dec. 6 runoff was desperately trying to scrape together enough votes to avert a filibuster and save the bill.

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) joined the pro-Keystone forces today, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) told reporters, adding that she thinks she can get the 60th vote. Bennet didn’t release any statements about his decision.

Landrieu has until Tuesday, when the Senate is expected to take up the bill.

“If the Democrats had been half as concerned about creating jobs for the American people as they are about saving the job of one politician in Louisiana, this would have been done years ago,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) told Fox. “This is now six years into this process. The Democrats have been blocking it. The president has been blocking it. And what’s really going to be interesting to see is if, in fact, the Democrats in the Senate now flip and decide to vote for it, what does the president do?”

Thune noted that the State Department’s analysis figures $20 million in additional property tax revenue for his state from pipeline construction, as well as 3,000 to 4,000 jobs. In total, the analysis estimated the creation of about 42,000 jobs from pipeline construction. “It’s a no-brainer,” Thune said.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a statement that rejecting the bill is “a no-brainer.”

“Instead of increasing carbon emissions and accelerating climate change so oil companies can make more profits, we should put millions of Americans back to work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and creating a sustainable energy future,” Sanders said.

Even if Landrieu can find that last Senate vote, it’s likely President Obama will kill the bill.

“My position hasn’t changed, that this is a process that is supposed to be followed. Right now you have a case pending in Nebraska, where the pipeline would run through, in which a state court judge has questioned the plan. And until we know what the route is, it’s very hard to finish that evaluation. And I don’t think we should short- circuit that process,” Obama told reporters while in Burma on Friday.

“I have also noted that, as policy matter, my government believes that we should judge this pipeline based on whether or not it accelerates climate change or whether it helps the American people with their energy costs and their gas prices,” he added. “And I have to constantly push back against this idea that somehow the Keystone pipeline is either this massive jobs bill for the United States, or is somehow lowering gas prices.”

At the State Department, press secretary Jen Psaki said they’re moving ahead with their “thorough, transparent, and objective review” of the pipeline project, and the Senate vote would have no bearing on that.

“The permit process will conclude once factors that could have a significant impact on the Department’s national security — national interest determination regarding the proposed project have been evaluated and appropriately reflected in the decision documents, but obviously, the court case has an impact on that. We don’t have any control over the timing of that,” Psaki said, adding that “in the past we haven’t looked fondly on efforts to circumvent the process in place.”

Cassidy said after the House passage that the lower chamber’s action “will make it easier for the Senate to do right by the American people and finally vote on building the pipeline.”

“Authorization to build the pipeline has now passed the House 9 times,” he said. “If the Senate fails to pass this now, they are ignoring a majority of Americans who support the pipeline and the thousands of jobs it will bring.”

Landrieu co-sponsored the Keystone approval bill back on May 1 with Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.).

“Representative Cassidy took the lead on our bill in the House. Now the Senate will vote on it Tuesday. Of course, we need to get 60 votes,” Hoeven said today. “If we don’t get 60 votes in the lame duck, then I will reintroduce the bill in the new Congress and I believe I have the votes to pass it then.”

The North Dakota senator noted that a report by “the Obama Energy Department” found that oil piped from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries “will stay in the United States, helping to reduce the price of fuel at the pump for American consumers and businesses.”

“The Keystone XL pipeline is about energy, jobs, helping to grow our economy and increasing national security by increasing energy security,” Hoeven said. “We do not want to depend on the Middle East for oil when we can produce it at home, along with our closest ally Canada. But to have a sound energy plan, we need the infrastructure to move that energy to market, safely and efficiently.”