The Keystone Pipeline Is Ruining Mark Udall’s Week

Mark Udall during a Q&A session on April 20, 2010.
National Journal
Jason Plautz
Add to Briefcase
Jason Plautz
May 5, 2014, 5:28 p.m.

The Key­stone XL pipeline wouldn’t run through Col­or­ado, but it’s about to take cen­ter stage in the state’s polit­ics.

The Sen­ate is near cer­tain to vote this week on le­gis­la­tion that would ap­prove the oil-sands pipeline, and that’s leav­ing Sen. Mark Ud­all — a Demo­crat fa­cing a tough reelec­tion chal­lenge — with an un­en­vi­able choice to make.

Ud­all told the Den­ver Post Monday that he’ll vote against the pipeline bill, con­sist­ent with his pre­vi­ous votes. But that’s not stop­ping either side from lob­by­ing for his at­ten­tion and try­ing to force his hand.

If Ud­all votes yes, he’ll an­ger a lib­er­al base that has put block­ing the pipeline at the head of its en­vir­on­ment­al charge. But if he votes no, his op­pon­ent prom­ises to use it as fod­der for paint­ing the Demo­crat as too lib­er­al for a mod­er­ate state. 

And neither fac­tion is mak­ing its case quietly.

The anti-Key­stone group 350.org will hold a protest out­side of Ud­all’s of­fice Tues­day, one of sev­er­al protests across the coun­try on the pipeline. Jason Kow­al­ski, the group’s policy dir­ect­or, said the at­ten­tion on Ud­all’s race makes it a nat­ur­al place to be­gin the grass­roots march be­fore head­ing to the of­fice of Sen. Mi­chael Ben­net, an­oth­er Col­or­ado Demo­crat.

On the oth­er side, the Amer­ic­an Pet­ro­leum In­sti­tute will run ads in Col­or­ado and four oth­er states lob­by­ing for the pipeline.

Ud­all was a “no” the last time the Sen­ate weighed in on Key­stone, a pipeline that would take car­bon-in­tens­ive Ca­na­dian tar sands from Al­berta to Gulf Coast re­finer­ies. But ana­lysts on both sides of the aisle say that he re­mains wishy-washy on the is­sue, and his de­cision on the latest meas­ure is closely watched.

The ex­pec­ted vehicle, a bill from Sens. John Ho­even, R-N.D., and Mary Landrieu, D-La., had 56 co­spon­sors — in­clud­ing all Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans — last week, leav­ing sup­port­ers search­ing for four more Demo­crats that could tip them past the 60-vote threshold.

The Key­stone bill could come as a stan­dalone or as an amend­ment to the Shaheen-Port­man en­ergy-ef­fi­ciency bill. In­stead, he has said re­peatedly that he be­lieves the de­cision is up to the ad­min­is­tra­tion. That po­s­i­tion seem­ingly puts him against the latest ap­prov­al bill, but it also leaves him plenty of wiggle room.

That room closes this week, when Ud­all faces the bin­ary yes-or-no vote.

And therein lies an open­ing for Ud­all’s chal­lenger, Re­pub­lic­an Rep. Cory Gard­ner.

Gard­ner has re­peatedly called on Ud­all to cla­ri­fy his po­s­i­tion, say­ing that a no vote for the Sen­ate le­gis­la­tion func­tions as a vote against the pipeline. In a state­ment last month, Gard­ner blas­ted Ud­all for his “de­cision to sit on the side­lines as Amer­ica comes closer and closer to los­ing a pro­ject that would cre­ate thou­sands of jobs and help bol­ster eco­nom­ic growth.”

Ud­all is not the only Demo­crat who would have an easi­er week were the Sen­ate to go Key­stone-free, with Ben­net also in the spot­light. Ben­net voted yes on the non­bind­ing res­ol­u­tion that was at­tached to the fed­er­al budget in the fall, but hasn’t backed the latest meas­ure.

Among the oth­er Demo­crats con­sidered pos­sible gets are Sens. Thomas Carp­er and Chris­toph­er Coons of Delaware, Robert Ca­sey of Pennsylvania, Tim John­son of South Dakota, and Bill Nel­son of Flor­ida. But with John­son say­ing Monday that he’ll vote no and Coons and Nel­son also re­portedly out, it ap­pears the mo­tion will fall short.

Up­dated with new in­form­a­tion from Ud­all’s of­fice.

What We're Following See More »
DEFERENCE TO PRESIDENT
More Republicans Trust Trump than GOP Members
32 minutes ago
WHY WE CARE
PAC WILL TARGET INCUMBENTS
Sanders Acolytes Taking the Movement Local
2 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

"While Democrats nationwide have put the focus on President Trump, the Sanders wing of the party has engaged in an intramural fight to remake the party in a more populist, liberal mold." From Washington state to California to Florida, Sanders loyalists are making good on their promise to remake the party from the ground up. And just last week, a "group of former Sanders campaign aides launched a super PAC with the explicit goal of mounting primary challenges to Democratic incumbents."

Source:
THANKS TO MILITARY ROLE
McMaster Requires Congressional Approval
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Congress will need to vote on Donald Trump's pick of Lt. General H.R. McMaster to be his next national security adviser, but not for the reason you think. The position of NSA doesn't require Senate approval, but since McMaster currently holds a three-star military position, Congress will need to vote to allow him to keep his position instead of forcing him to drop one star and become a Major General, which could potentially affect his pension.

Source:
THE QUESTION
How Many Signatures Has the Petition for Trump’s Tax Returns Received?
7 hours ago
THE ANSWER

More than 1 million, setting a record. More than 100,000 signatures triggers an official White House response.

Source:
SENT LETTERS TO A DOZEN ORGANIZATIONS
Senate Intel Looks to Preserve Records of Russian Interference
7 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The Senate Intelligence Committee is seeking to ensure that records related to Russia’s alleged intervention in the 2016 U.S. elections are preserved as it begins investigating that country’s ties to the Trump team. The panel sent more than a dozen letters to 'organizations, agencies and officials' on Friday, asking them to preserve materials related to the congressional investigation, according to a Senate aide, who was not authorized to comment publicly. The Senate Intelligence Committee is spearheading the most comprehensive probe on Capitol Hill of Russia’s alleged activities in the elections."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login