In Congress, bad ideas never die — they just get tacked on to unrelated bills. And so we really shouldn’t be too surprised that the Keystone XL pipeline walks again in the Senate, zombie-like, oozing tar and pumped with petrodollars.
Keystone XL is the continent-spanning pipeline project intended to pump dirty, expensive tar-sands bitumen (i.e., sludge) from Alberta to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. Its multipronged environmental threat brought together an unprecedented coalition to oppose it last year and inspired one of the largest civil disobedience protests in American history.
Thought the pipeline was dead? We did too. But the latest move in the Keystone saga has Republican senators ready to insert a pipeline authorization as a “rider” to a transportation bill that’s already being fast-tracked. The idea here, plainly, is to try to force President Obama into what his opponents think is going to be an enormously unpopular election-year decision to reject the pipeline yet again.
If your deja-vu alarm is bleeping, that’s because we saw this brainless movie just a few weeks ago. At the end of last year, congressional Republicans tried to force the president’s hand with a similar gambit: They insisted Obama give a thumb’s up-or-down to the pipeline project within two months, even though he’d already declared that a full environmental review would take another year. The GOP said “Now or never,” and the president responded, “OK, then, never!”
It’s hard to imagine what purpose the latest pipeline fight in Congress can have, beyond giving senators a chance to show their favorite energy lobbyists how high they can jump. But if the GOP senators can peel enough Democrats over to their side they might be able to get Keystone added to the transportation bill.
And who knows? The president has his own reasons for wanting to sign a compromise transportation bill into law — since, unlike the pipeline, it actually might help create a significant number of jobs. So Obama might decide to sign such a bill, despite his previous willingness to ditch Keystone.
That’s where you come in. Grist is joining our friends at 350.org and a whole passel of other concerned organizations in a 24-hour campaign (from noon Monday to noon Tuesday ) to blitz the Senate with half a million email messages saying “Don’t do it — don’t bring this pipeline back to life.” If you want to be part of this online human wave, just click here.
Here at Grist, we’re primarily about providing you with trustworthy information and smart, funny voices (along with the occasional cute-animal video). We don’t do a lot of direct advocacy, but we’re joining this effort because it’s time for Washington to stop playing political games with our climate and our future. It’s time to draw a line and hold it. No future that makes sense contains the Keystone XL pipeline. Let your senators know!
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