May 05, 2014
Anti-pipeline activists have launched an offensive against the handful of Democratic Senators who may determine the future of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in a vote slated for this week.
With rallies outside the offices of "swing" Senators Tom Carper (Del.), Bill Nelson (Fla.) and Bob Casey (Penn.) on Monday and Sen. Mark Udall (Colo.) on Tuesday, protesters are demanding that the legislators hold strong against the intense lobby efforts of the fossil fuel industry and vote against the measure.
Launching what they call a "full court press," anti-Keystone activists are "going to be on the phones and in the streets over the coming days to show Senators who are on-the-fence that they have the support they need to stand up to Big Oil and say no to this pipeline," said Jason Kowalsk, policy director for the environmental group 350.org.
In a bid to steamroll the approval process for the pipeline, legislators have attached an amendment to the Shaheen-Portman energy bill to override the State Department's ongoing review of the project.
However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is reportedly in talks about whether to hold a vote on a "stand-alone" Keystone bill, put forth last week. Fifty-six lawmakers hoping to force approval of the pipeline need 60 votes to overcome the expected filibuster and 67 votes to override a Presidential veto of the bill.
The vote is expected to come before the Senate this week, possibly as early as Tuesday, the Hill reports.
Environmental groups are blasting the 11 Democratic Senators who have joined forces with the GOP in penning the pro-Keystone legislation. The group CREDO Action is calling on people to "hold your senator accountable--and urge them to stop empowering Republicans' anti-environmental attacks."
Jane Kleeb, founder of anti-pipeline group Bold Nebraska, said that the Senate vote is a "purely political move."
"It's really just a piece for folks' political ads back home in tough re-election campaigns," Kleeb said on MSNBC's "The Ed Show," referring to amendment co-author Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu (D), among others.
"Canada is looking for a bailout from America," Kleeb continued. "They have invested in this really awful energy source, the tar sands. It is land-locked. First Nations communities up in Canada are blocking it on their coast. They thought they could get an easy pass through the heartland of America, we stood up to them." Kleeb added that the one group who hasn't stood up to them are "politicians."
The vote this week is likely the last time the Keystone XL pipeline will be considered legislatively until after the November midterm elections. "Each side thinks they're going to win," Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on Monday. "It's going to be real close."
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