Senators who voted to push through development of the Keystone XL pipeline today have received, on average, $570,034 in contributions to their campaigns and leadership PACs from the oil and gas industry over the course of their careers. The 35 senators who voted against bill have received, on average, just $78,641 from the industry.
The Obama administration is still considering whether or not to approve the pipeline, but the Republican-led 114th Congress seized the reins almost as soon as it took office earlier this month. The House passed H.R. 3, the Keystone XL Pipeline Act, on Jan. 9 by a vote of 266-153. The Senate followed suit with its version of the Keystone bill, S.1, today, with nine Democrats joining every single Republican to pass the measure 62-36.
President Obama has threatened to veto the bill, and unless its supporters can drum up five more Senate votes, a congressional override would fail.
While some of the disparity between the amounts received by the yea versus nay voters can be explained by a longstanding partisan tilt of the oil and gas industry — since 1990, 79 percent of the industry’s campaign contributions have gone to Republicans — the nine Democrats who sided with the GOP received significantly more from the industry than their party colleagues. On average, Democrats who voted for S.1 received $140,193 from the oil and gas industry, while those who voted no, received just $82,595.
The object of the tussle is a proposed 1,179-mile pipeline that would cost an estimated $5.4 billion to construct and would transport more oil from Canada’s Alberta tar sands to the Gulf of Mexico, where it would be refined. Republicans support it because of the additional energy it will “This is about energy, jobs, economic activity, national security and building the right kind of infrastructure we need,” said Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) after the vote. Environmentalists and many Democrats oppose it because it will lead to more oil extraction from the tar sands and, they say, accelerate climate change; in addition, many of the jobs the pipeline will generate will be tied to construction, and will disappear once the infrastructure is built.
A full list of all current senators and their career totals from the oil and gas industry can be found here. The data includes only donations made after 1989.