ICYMI: Colo. senators may be key to ending delay on Keystone

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Denver Post

Colo. senators may be key to ending delay on Keystone

By Matt Dempsey
Guest Commentary

The original article can be found here.

A strong bipartisan effort is underway in the U.S. Senate to finally put an end to the Obama administration’s politics of delay on the Keystone XL pipeline. Now all eyes are on two Democratic senators from Colorado, who — as many national publications have pointed out — will determine if the bill approving Keystone XL will secure the necessary 60 votes to pass.

The impetus for this bipartisan effort came immediately after the Obama administration announced last month it will be indefinitely delaying a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline. Eleven Democrats joined 45 Republicans to send a strong message to the president: Enough is enough.

The list of reasons to support Keystone XL are, as Mary L. Landrieu, the Democratic chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, put it, “as long as the pipeline itself.”

The U.S. State Department has released five separate reports in five years showing the pipeline will create thousands of good-paying American jobs, while having a negligible impact on the environment.

Energy experts say that Keystone XL would significantly boost energy security. As Dan Yergin, IHS CERA founder and one of foremost energy experts put it, “The big winner from not building Keystone is Venezuela, because their heavy oil has the same carbon footprint as the oil sands. [So] Venezuela or Canada, take your pick. Who is your favorite country and who is your neighbor?”

Coloradans overwhelmingly support the pipeline. Former U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar put it well when he said construction of Keystone XL can “be done in a way that creates a win-win for energy and the environment.” Sen. Michael Bennet last year voted in favor of the project, along with Reps. Ed Perlmutter, Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman and Scott Tipton. A recent poll found that 66 percent of Colorado voters support Keystone XL.

The poll numbers in Colorado mirror recent national polls, which have shown that support for Keystone XL has never been higher — and that includes majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents. From the AFL-CIO to the National Association of Manufacturing, from The Washington Post to The Wall Street Journal, from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush, the support from a diverse coalition of voices is overwhelming.

So what’s keeping Colorado’s two senators from backing this bill and putting an end to the political games?

Sen. Mark Udall explained to The Denver Post earlier this month, “I’ve voted against all these amendments — to restrict the pipeline, to build it, to determine where the oil goes or doesn’t go,” adding, “Building the pipeline could have serious implications for our nation’s water, land and air. That’s why it’s important to finish this technical review.”

Yet President Obama’s own State Department has repeatedly stated that the pipeline would have a minimal impact on the environment. These findings led the Washington Post editorial board to call the most recent delay “absurd” noting, “It’s past time for President Obama to set aside politics and resolve this bizarre distraction of an issue. The State Department’s latest study … largely confirms the conclusions of previous assessments and those of many independent energy experts: Allowing the firm Trans Canada to build Keystone XL, which would run across the Canadian border to Steele City, Neb., is unlikely to have significant effects on climate-change-causing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Bennet told The Wall Street Journal, “I do support [Keystone XL] … . I think it’s become ridiculously political. It just has become another one of those idiotic Washington political games that bounces back and forth and doesn’t actually accomplish anything.”

He is 100 percent correct; Keystone XL is all about politics, not about the facts. Another opportunity will likely come in the next month for Bennet and Udall to put an end to a ridiculously over-politicized process and help put thousands of Americans back to work.

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