The Thinker: Rich Galen


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Rich Galen

Thursday November 20, 2014


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From Great Barrington, Massachusetts

  • The Keystone XL Pipeline bill failed in the U.S. Senate this week by one vote. It needed 60 votes to proceed to a final vote, but it got only 59.

  • There is no bad news attached to this vote.

  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv) had refused to allow a Keystone vote on the floor forever. But, follow me here:

  • Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La) is the chair of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee until January. She is in an uphill fight to keep her seat Senate seat and is in a runoff election against Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy to be held on December 6.

  • Landrieu wanted to demonstrate to the good people of Louisiana that they needed to re-elect her because of her clout in the U.S. Senate on energy issues.

  • So, Reid allowed Landrieu to introduce her bill to authorize the Keystone Pipeline and to allow it to come to a vote.

  • The Keystone pipeline will bring Canadian oil to refineries in Louisiana elsewhere so it can be refined and sold as gasoline, diesel, and all the other levels of refined output.

  • As the LA Times described it,
    "The $5.3-billion Keystone XL would carry 830,000 barrels of crude oil daily from Alberta, Canada, to Steele City, Neb., where it would connect with a southern leg, already completed, to Texas Gulf Coast refineries."

  • Environmentalists, who are committed to move the planet off fossil fuels, are opposing the pipeline because it will bring more oil into the U.S. system rather than less.

  • President Barak Obama has dithered on the Keystone issue forever. On the one hand his administration has praised it because of the jobs it will create; on the other his administration has opposed it because of the burnable fuel it will help produce.

  • You pick.

  • The reality is, this vote will not have any effect on the world's environment. Like every other country, Canada needs to sell what it can, where it can, when it can. If they don't sell their oil to the U.S., then they will sell it to China.

  • As T. Boone Pickens noted after the vote failed in the Senate:
    "This oil is going to be used as fuel somewhere - whether it's in the U.S., Europe or Asia so refusing to build the pipeline will have no effect on that."

  • You know my opinion on these things: It is better to put less junk into the atmosphere than more. But, until nuclear fusion becomes a viable energy source, countries need to power their economies (and provide work to their people) and fossil fuels are the most efficient way to do that.

  • Getting back to the politics of this, Speaker John Boehner allowed Landrieu's opponent to introduce the House version of the Keystone Pipeline bill in the House which sailed through.

  • The deal was, if the Senate had agreed to proceed to bring the bill to the floor (that's where the 60 votes are required) and passed it, the House version would have gone to the President.

  • But it didn't.

  • Democrats in the Senate know that Mary Landrieu is hanging by a thread. She worked her caucus, essentially begging them to give her a win that she could take back to Louisiana with her, but her colleagues told her to take a hike.

  • Republicans in the Senate supported Democrat Mary Landrieu's bill.

  • Her Democratic colleagues left her hanging out to dry.

  • The latest poll has Cassidy leading Landrieu in the runoff by 11 points - 53-42. But, Louisiana politics is to the rest of the nation as politics on Neptune are to the politics on the Earth.

  • When the 114th Congress convenes on or about January 3, 2015 incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) has said the Keystone Pipeline bill will be one of the first to be taken up.

  • With at least eight - and likely nine - additional GOP votes it will get to the President's desk early in the year.

  • Then, the spotlight will turn to the White House. Will President Obama sign a bill to allow the pipeline to be build? Or will he use a veto to escalate the fight between the Congress and the Administration?

  • Stay tuned.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A link to the Keystone Pipeline website. Also links to the LA Times coverage of the Senate vote and to the latest polling from Louisisana.

    Also, a great Mullfoto crossing the George Washington Bridge yesterday.

    -- END --

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