Democrats Block Keystone Bill, Landrieu’s Plea Rejected

The Senate blocked the pipeline bill 59-41 on Tuesday night.

National Journal

Mary Landrieu begged her fel­low Demo­crats to back le­gis­la­tion ap­prov­ing the Key­stone XL pipeline, look­ing for a life­line in her long-shot bid to keep her Sen­ate seat. But on Tues­day night, she fell one vote short.

The Sen­ate re­jec­ted an at­tempt to get clo­ture on the meas­ure, with 41 sen­at­ors — all Demo­crats or in­de­pend­ents — vot­ing to stall the meas­ure.

Mary Landrieu begged her fel­low Demo­crats to back le­gis­la­tion ap­prov­ing the Key­stone XL pipeline, look­ing for a life­line in her long-shot bid to keep her Sen­ate seat. But on Tues­day night, she fell one vote short.

The Sen­ate re­jec­ted an at­tempt to get clo­ture on the meas­ure, with 41 sen­at­ors — all Demo­crats or in­de­pend­ents — vot­ing to stall the meas­ure.

It’s a vic­tory for en­vir­on­ment­al groups and their Demo­crat­ic al­lies, who op­pose the oil-sands pipeline be­cause of its con­tri­bu­tions to glob­al warm­ing. And it saves Pres­id­ent Obama a head­ache: The White House op­posed the bill but will be re­lieved not to have to veto it.

For Landrieu, it’s an­oth­er set­back at an already low mo­ment. Weeks away from Louisi­ana’s Dec. 6 run­off elec­tion and trail­ing Rep. Bill Cas­sidy in the polls, Landrieu had hoped to use her steer­ing of the meas­ure through the Sen­ate to in­fuse new life in­to her cam­paign. She got a boost from her party’s top brass when they agreed to hold a stand-alone Key­stone vote, a step they’d been loathe to take in the past.

And go­ing in­to the vote, Landrieu had 59 as­sured sup­port­ers for her mo­tion, but — des­pite her as­sur­ances she could break a fili­buster — it was nev­er clear where she’d get No. 60. Demo­crat­ic Ma­jor­ity Whip Dick Durbin was seen as one of Landrieu’s last op­tions, but he voted ‘no’ on the bill.

Durbin kept the Sen­ate guess­ing un­til the mo­ment he voted. “I am headed to the floor. You will know in a mo­ment,” he said when flocked by re­port­ers in the Cap­it­ol ahead of the vote. Asked if there was any reas­on he wasn’t re­veal­ing his in­ten­tions, Durbin replied: “just … let me breathe.”

After the vote, Landrieu in­sisted that the loss did not un­der­cut her ar­gu­ment that Louisi­ana voters should elect her for her clout in the up­per cham­ber, telling re­port­ers that the very ex­ist­ence of the lame-duck Key­stone battle was proof of her cre­den­tials.

“Only a seni­or mem­ber that has been here as long as I have could re­cog­nize the op­por­tun­ity, the op­por­tun­ity when Mitch Mc­Con­nell was fo­cused on oth­er is­sues and Harry Re­id was go­ing back to his same old agenda,” said Landrieu, who heads the Sen­ate’s En­ergy pan­el and — if reelec­ted — would likely serve as the pan­el’s top Demo­crat. “I said, you know what, I think it is time to have this de­bate. So my ex­per­i­ence is still valu­able, my chair­man­ship of the En­ergy Com­mit­tee un­til the end of this Con­gress is very valu­able to the people of Louisi­ana.”

But Cas­sidy’s camp pounced on the vote. “Sen­at­or Mary Landrieu’s fail­ure to pass the Key­stone XL Pipeline this even­ing is a per­fect snap­shot of her time as Chair of the En­ergy Com­mit­tee — a fail­ure,” a Cas­sidy spokes­man said in a state­ment sent im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the vote. “It is clear that Sen­at­or Landrieu is un­able to stand up for Louisi­ana ef­fect­ively.”

Cas­sidy’s state­ment also noted that the House passed a meas­ure to ap­prove the pipeline last week.

Le­gis­la­tion green-light­ing the oil-sands pro­ject is cer­tain to come to Obama’s desk next year, however, when Re­pub­lic­ans take the reins in the Sen­ate. Soon-to-be Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell has pledged to move swiftly to au­thor­ize the pipeline.

Tran­sCanada’s pro­ject would carry hun­dreds of thou­sands of bar­rels of oil each day from oil-sands pro­jects in Al­berta, Canada, to re­finer­ies along the Gulf Coast. It would also carry oil from the boom­ing Bakken form­a­tion in North Dakota.

Key­stone is a big pri­or­ity for Re­pub­lic­ans and in­dustry groups that have lob­bied ag­gress­ively in fa­vor of the pipeline. But it’s a polit­ic­al head­ache for Obama, and for Demo­crats in gen­er­al, who are di­vided over the pro­ject.

Many labor uni­ons back Key­stone, but en­vir­on­ment­al­ists — an­oth­er pil­lar of Obama’s polit­ic­al bas — bit­terly op­pose it and have moun­ted an ag­gress­ive cam­paign in re­cent years that has in­cluded nu­mer­ous protests.

The White House did not is­sue a form­al veto threat on the pro­ject, but the pres­id­ent hin­ted in the days lead­ing up to the vote that he would veto the le­gis­la­tion.

White House spokes­man Josh Earn­est said Tues­day, “It cer­tainly is a piece of le­gis­la­tion that the pres­id­ent doesn’t sup­port.”

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has spent six years weigh­ing the pro­ject, and the pres­id­ent has re­peatedly said in re­cent days that he wants to let the re­view play out. The pres­id­ent also made crit­ic­al com­ments about the pro­ject on his re­cent trip to Asia, buoy­ing en­vir­on­ment­al­ists.

“I have to con­stantly push back against this idea that some­how the Key­stone pipeline is either this massive jobs bill for the United States, or is some­how lower­ing gas prices,” he told re­port­ers in My­an­mar four days ago.

Obama has also said that he will not ap­prove Key­stone un­less he’s cer­tain that build­ing the pro­ject would not sig­ni­fic­antly in­crease car­bon emis­sions.

Re­pub­lic­ans, who have said the pro­ject is an eco­nom­ic win that will boost U.S. en­ergy se­cur­ity, used the de­bate to in­crease polit­ic­al pres­sure on the White House over Key­stone.

Mary Landrieu begged her fel­low Demo­crats to back le­gis­la­tion ap­prov­ing the Key­stone XL pipeline, look­ing for a life­line in her long-shot bid to keep her Sen­ate seat. But on Tues­day night, she fell one vote short.

The Sen­ate re­jec­ted an at­tempt to get clo­ture on the meas­ure, with 41 sen­at­ors — all Demo­crats or in­de­pend­ents — vot­ing to stall the meas­ure.

It’s a vic­tory for en­vir­on­ment­al groups and their Demo­crat­ic al­lies, who op­pose the oil-sands pipeline be­cause of its con­tri­bu­tions to glob­al warm­ing. And it saves Pres­id­ent Obama a head­ache: The White House op­posed the bill but will be re­lieved not to have to veto it.

For Landrieu, it’s an­oth­er set­back at an already low mo­ment. Weeks away from Louisi­ana’s Dec. 6 run­off elec­tion and trail­ing Rep. Bill Cas­sidy in the polls, Landrieu had hoped to use her steer­ing of the meas­ure through the Sen­ate to in­fuse new life in­to her cam­paign. She got a boost from her party’s top brass when they agreed to hold a stand-alone Key­stone vote, a step they’d been loathe to take in the past.

And go­ing in­to the vote, Landrieu had 59 as­sured sup­port­ers for her mo­tion, but — des­pite her as­sur­ances she could break a fili­buster — it was nev­er clear where she’d get No. 60. Demo­crat­ic Ma­jor­ity Whip Dick Durbin was seen as one of Landrieu’s last op­tions, but he voted ‘no’ on the bill.

Durbin kept the Sen­ate guess­ing un­til the mo­ment he voted. “I am headed to the floor. You will know in a mo­ment,” he said when flocked by re­port­ers in the Cap­it­ol ahead of the vote. Asked if there was any reas­on he wasn’t re­veal­ing his in­ten­tions, Durbin replied: “just … let me breathe.”

After the vote, Landrieu in­sisted that the loss did not un­der­cut her ar­gu­ment that Louisi­ana voters should elect her for her clout in the up­per cham­ber, telling re­port­ers that the very ex­ist­ence of the lame-duck Key­stone battle was proof of her cre­den­tials.

“Only a seni­or mem­ber that has been here as long as I have could re­cog­nize the op­por­tun­ity, the op­por­tun­ity when Mitch Mc­Con­nell was fo­cused on oth­er is­sues and Harry Re­id was go­ing back to his same old agenda,” said Landrieu, who heads the Sen­ate’s En­ergy pan­el and — if reelec­ted — would likely serve as the pan­el’s top Demo­crat. “I said, you know what, I think it is time to have this de­bate. So my ex­per­i­ence is still valu­able, my chair­man­ship of the En­ergy Com­mit­tee un­til the end of this Con­gress is very valu­able to the people of Louisi­ana.”

But Cas­sidy’s camp pounced on the vote. “Sen­at­or Mary Landrieu’s fail­ure to pass the Key­stone XL Pipeline this even­ing is a per­fect snap­shot of her time as Chair of the En­ergy Com­mit­tee — a fail­ure,” a Cas­sidy spokes­man said in a state­ment sent im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the vote. “It is clear that Sen­at­or Landrieu is un­able to stand up for Louisi­ana ef­fect­ively.”

Cas­sidy’s state­ment also noted that the House passed a meas­ure to ap­prove the pipeline last week.

Le­gis­la­tion green-light­ing the oil-sands pro­ject is cer­tain to come to Obama’s desk next year, however, when Re­pub­lic­ans take the reins in the Sen­ate. Soon-to-be Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell has pledged to move swiftly to au­thor­ize the pipeline.

Tran­sCanada’s pro­ject would carry hun­dreds of thou­sands of bar­rels of oil each day from oil-sands pro­jects in Al­berta, Canada, to re­finer­ies along the Gulf Coast. It would also carry oil from the boom­ing Bakken form­a­tion in North Dakota.

Key­stone is a big pri­or­ity for Re­pub­lic­ans and in­dustry groups that have lob­bied ag­gress­ively in fa­vor of the pipeline. But it’s a polit­ic­al head­ache for Obama, and for Demo­crats in gen­er­al, who are di­vided over the pro­ject.

Many labor uni­ons back Key­stone, but en­vir­on­ment­al­ists — an­oth­er pil­lar of Obama’s polit­ic­al bas — bit­terly op­pose it and have moun­ted an ag­gress­ive cam­paign in re­cent years that has in­cluded nu­mer­ous protests.

The White House did not is­sue a form­al veto threat on the pro­ject, but the pres­id­ent hin­ted in the days lead­ing up to the vote that he would veto the le­gis­la­tion.

White House spokes­man Josh Earn­est said Tues­day, “It cer­tainly is a piece of le­gis­la­tion that the pres­id­ent doesn’t sup­port.”

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has spent six years weigh­ing the pro­ject, and the pres­id­ent has re­peatedly said in re­cent days that he wants to let the re­view play out. The pres­id­ent also made crit­ic­al com­ments about the pro­ject on his re­cent trip to Asia, buoy­ing en­vir­on­ment­al­ists.

“I have to con­stantly push back against this idea that some­how the Key­stone pipeline is either this massive jobs bill for the United States, or is some­how lower­ing gas prices,” he told re­port­ers in My­an­mar four days ago.

Obama has also said that he will not ap­prove Key­stone un­less he’s cer­tain that build­ing the pro­ject would not sig­ni­fic­antly in­crease car­bon emis­sions.

Re­pub­lic­ans, who have said the pro­ject is an eco­nom­ic win that will boost U.S. en­ergy se­cur­ity, used the de­bate to in­crease polit­ic­al pres­sure on the White House over Key­stone.

“I say to Pres­id­ent Obama, time is up, and the ex­cuses have run out. It is time for you, Mr. Pres­id­ent, to make a de­cision,” said Sen. John Bar­rasso, a Wyom­ing Re­pub­lic­an who is part of the GOP lead­er­ship team, dur­ing the floor de­bate Tues­day. Re­pub­lic­an Sen. John Thune, who is also in lead­er­ship, noted that the pipeline has bi­par­tis­an sup­port in Con­gress, and he said the Key­stone op­pon­ents are “mem­bers of the far-left wing of the Demo­crat­ic Party.”

En­vir­on­ment­al­ists and Demo­crats against the pro­ject ar­gue that Key­stone will worsen glob­al warm­ing by serving as a cata­lyst for rap­id ex­pan­sion of car­bon-in­tens­ive oil-sands pro­duc­tion in Canada.

“To pro­tect the plan­et from cata­stroph­ic glob­al warm­ing, we need to leave four-fifths of the iden­ti­fied con­ven­tion­al fossil-fuel re­serves in the ground,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley, an Ore­gon Demo­crat, ahead of the vote. “But build­ing the Key­stone pipeline would open the faucet to rap­id ex­ploit­a­tion of a massive new un­con­ven­tion­al re­serve — that is, the tar sands — mak­ing it much less likely for hu­man civil­iz­a­tion to suc­ceed in meet­ing that car­bon budget that is so im­port­ant to our fu­ture eco­nom­ic and en­vir­on­ment­al world.”

But a ma­jor State De­part­ment en­vir­on­ment­al ana­lys­is pub­lished in Janu­ary gen­er­ally re­but­ted claims that the pipeline is a linch­pin for grow­ing oil-sands pro­duc­tion.

It con­cluded that con­struc­tion of Key­stone — one of sev­er­al new oil-sands pipelines that com­pan­ies are pro­pos­ing — is un­likely to af­fect the rate of oil-sands ex­pan­sion. That’s be­cause grow­ing use of rail­ways to move oil can pick up the slack, even though mov­ing oil by rail is more ex­pens­ive.

However, State’s ana­lys­is also pre­dicts that if no new pipelines are built to handle ex­pan­ded oil-sands pro­duc­tion, oil prices re­main­ing in the $65-$75 per bar­rel range could cur­tail pro­duc­tion, but the study calls this un­likely. Oil prices have been fall­ing for months, and West Texas In­ter­me­di­ate crude oil is cur­rently trad­ing at around $75 per bar­rel.

The En­ergy De­part­ment’s stat­ist­ic­al arm this month es­tim­ated that oil will av­er­age $78 per bar­rel in 2015, which is well be­low its pre­vi­ous fore­cast.

Mary Landrieu begged her fel­low Demo­crats to back le­gis­la­tion ap­prov­ing the Key­stone XL pipeline, look­ing for a life­line in her long-shot bid to keep her Sen­ate seat. But on Tues­day night, she fell one vote short.

The Sen­ate re­jec­ted an at­tempt to get clo­ture on the meas­ure, with 41 sen­at­ors — all Demo­crats or in­de­pend­ents — vot­ing to stall the meas­ure.

It’s a vic­tory for en­vir­on­ment­al groups and their Demo­crat­ic al­lies, who op­pose the oil-sands pipeline be­cause of its con­tri­bu­tions to glob­al warm­ing. And it saves Pres­id­ent Obama a head­ache: The White House op­posed the bill but will be re­lieved not to have to veto it.

For Landrieu, it’s an­oth­er set­back at an already low mo­ment. Weeks away from Louisi­ana’s Dec. 6 run­off elec­tion and trail­ing Rep. Bill Cas­sidy in the polls, Landrieu had hoped to use her steer­ing of the meas­ure through the Sen­ate to in­fuse new life in­to her cam­paign. She got a boost from her party’s top brass when they agreed to hold a stand-alone Key­stone vote, a step they’d been loathe to take in the past.

And go­ing in­to the vote, Landrieu had 59 as­sured sup­port­ers for her mo­tion, but — des­pite her as­sur­ances she could break a fili­buster — it was nev­er clear where she’d get No. 60. Demo­crat­ic Ma­jor­ity Whip Dick Durbin was seen as one of Landrieu’s last op­tions, but he voted ‘no’ on the bill.

Durbin kept the Sen­ate guess­ing un­til the mo­ment he voted. “I am headed to the floor. You will know in a mo­ment,” he said when flocked by re­port­ers in the Cap­it­ol ahead of the vote. Asked if there was any reas­on he wasn’t re­veal­ing his in­ten­tions, Durbin replied: “just … let me breathe.”

After the vote, Landrieu in­sisted that the loss did not un­der­cut her ar­gu­ment that Louisi­ana voters should elect her for her clout in the up­per cham­ber, telling re­port­ers that the very ex­ist­ence of the lame-duck Key­stone battle was proof of her cre­den­tials.

“Only a seni­or mem­ber that has been here as long as I have could re­cog­nize the op­por­tun­ity, the op­por­tun­ity when Mitch Mc­Con­nell was fo­cused on oth­er is­sues and Harry Re­id was go­ing back to his same old agenda,” said Landrieu, who heads the Sen­ate’s En­ergy pan­el and — if reelec­ted — would likely serve as the pan­el’s top Demo­crat. “I said, you know what, I think it is time to have this de­bate. So my ex­per­i­ence is still valu­able, my chair­man­ship of the En­ergy Com­mit­tee un­til the end of this Con­gress is very valu­able to the people of Louisi­ana.”

But Cas­sidy’s camp pounced on the vote. “Sen­at­or Mary Landrieu’s fail­ure to pass the Key­stone XL Pipeline this even­ing is a per­fect snap­shot of her time as Chair of the En­ergy Com­mit­tee — a fail­ure,” a Cas­sidy spokes­man said in a state­ment sent im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the vote. “It is clear that Sen­at­or Landrieu is un­able to stand up for Louisi­ana ef­fect­ively.”

Cas­sidy’s state­ment also noted that the House passed a meas­ure to ap­prove the pipeline last week.

Le­gis­la­tion green-light­ing the oil-sands pro­ject is cer­tain to come to Obama’s desk next year, however, when Re­pub­lic­ans take the reins in the Sen­ate. Soon-to-be Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell has pledged to move swiftly to au­thor­ize the pipeline.

Tran­sCanada’s pro­ject would carry hun­dreds of thou­sands of bar­rels of oil each day from oil-sands pro­jects in Al­berta, Canada, to re­finer­ies along the Gulf Coast. It would also carry oil from the boom­ing Bakken form­a­tion in North Dakota.

Key­stone is a big pri­or­ity for Re­pub­lic­ans and in­dustry groups that have lob­bied ag­gress­ively in fa­vor of the pipeline. But it’s a polit­ic­al head­ache for Obama, and for Demo­crats in gen­er­al, who are di­vided over the pro­ject.

Many labor uni­ons back Key­stone, but en­vir­on­ment­al­ists — an­oth­er pil­lar of Obama’s polit­ic­al bas — bit­terly op­pose it and have moun­ted an ag­gress­ive cam­paign in re­cent years that has in­cluded nu­mer­ous protests.

The White House did not is­sue a form­al veto threat on the pro­ject, but the pres­id­ent hin­ted in the days lead­ing up to the vote that he would veto the le­gis­la­tion.

White House spokes­man Josh Earn­est said Tues­day, “It cer­tainly is a piece of le­gis­la­tion that the pres­id­ent doesn’t sup­port.”

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has spent six years weigh­ing the pro­ject, and the pres­id­ent has re­peatedly said in re­cent days that he wants to let the re­view play out. The pres­id­ent also made crit­ic­al com­ments about the pro­ject on his re­cent trip to Asia, buoy­ing en­vir­on­ment­al­ists.

“I have to con­stantly push back against this idea that some­how the Key­stone pipeline is either this massive jobs bill for the United States, or is some­how lower­ing gas prices,” he told re­port­ers in My­an­mar four days ago.

Obama has also said that he will not ap­prove Key­stone un­less he’s cer­tain that build­ing the pro­ject would not sig­ni­fic­antly in­crease car­bon emis­sions.

Re­pub­lic­ans, who have said the pro­ject is an eco­nom­ic win that will boost U.S. en­ergy se­cur­ity, used the de­bate to in­crease polit­ic­al pres­sure on the White House over Key­stone.

“I say to Pres­id­ent Obama, time is up, and the ex­cuses have run out. It is time for you, Mr. Pres­id­ent, to make a de­cision,” said Sen. John Bar­rasso, a Wyom­ing Re­pub­lic­an who is part of the GOP lead­er­ship team, dur­ing the floor de­bate Tues­day. Re­pub­lic­an Sen. John Thune, who is also in lead­er­ship, noted that the pipeline has bi­par­tis­an sup­port in Con­gress, and he said the Key­stone op­pon­ents are “mem­bers of the far-left wing of the Demo­crat­ic Party.”

En­vir­on­ment­al­ists and Demo­crats against the pro­ject ar­gue that Key­stone will worsen glob­al warm­ing by serving as a cata­lyst for rap­id ex­pan­sion of car­bon-in­tens­ive oil-sands pro­duc­tion in Canada.

“To pro­tect the plan­et from cata­stroph­ic glob­al warm­ing, we need to leave four-fifths of the iden­ti­fied con­ven­tion­al fossil-fuel re­serves in the ground,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley, an Ore­gon Demo­crat, ahead of the vote. “But build­ing the Key­stone pipeline would open the faucet to rap­id ex­ploit­a­tion of a massive new un­con­ven­tion­al re­serve — that is, the tar sands — mak­ing it much less likely for hu­man civil­iz­a­tion to suc­ceed in meet­ing that car­bon budget that is so im­port­ant to our fu­ture eco­nom­ic and en­vir­on­ment­al world.”

But a ma­jor State De­part­ment en­vir­on­ment­al ana­lys­is pub­lished in Janu­ary gen­er­ally re­but­ted claims that the pipeline is a linch­pin for grow­ing oil-sands pro­duc­tion.

It con­cluded that con­struc­tion of Key­stone — one of sev­er­al new oil-sands pipelines that com­pan­ies are pro­pos­ing — is un­likely to af­fect the rate of oil-sands ex­pan­sion. That’s be­cause grow­ing use of rail­ways to move oil can pick up the slack, even though mov­ing oil by rail is more ex­pens­ive.

However, State’s ana­lys­is also pre­dicts that if no new pipelines are built to handle ex­pan­ded oil-sands pro­duc­tion, oil prices re­main­ing in the $65-$75 per bar­rel range could cur­tail pro­duc­tion, but the study calls this un­likely. Oil prices have been fall­ing for months, and West Texas In­ter­me­di­ate crude oil is cur­rently trad­ing at around $75 per bar­rel.

The En­ergy De­part­ment’s stat­ist­ic­al arm this month es­tim­ated that oil will av­er­age $78 per bar­rel in 2015, which is well be­low its pre­vi­ous fore­cast.

Contributions by Sarah Mimms
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