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Keystone XL Likely To Pass Senate, But It Won’t Save Mary Landrieu

Keystone XL Map

Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu says that she has the 60 votes needed to advance the bill before the Senate to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, but its unclear where things proceed from there and it seems clear that passage of the bill is not going to help her in her battle with Congressman Bill Cassidy in Louisiana’s December 6th runoff:

Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu says she has the 60 votes she needs for the Senate to advance a measure Tuesday that would authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Landrieu has been scrambling to attract at least 15 Democrats to join 45 Republicans to reach the critical 60-vote procedural threshold. She told reporters at the Capitol on Monday night that she’d reached that mark.

“I feel very comfortable,” Landrieu said.

At least 14 Democrats have said they will support the measure. But it’s not clear who has agreed to provide the final vote or whether Landrieu’s comments simply reflect optimism.

One of Landrieu’s top targets, West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller, said it won’t be him. Another target, Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, said he is leaning against supporting the bill.

If she can shepherd the legislation through the Senate, it would allow Landrieu to demonstrate her influence one last time ahead of a Dec. 6 run-off election in Louisiana, where she faces Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy, who sponsored the bill authorizing the pipeline when the House approved it on Friday.

As I noted last week when this process began, it is quite obvious that Senator Landrieu’s urgency in proceeding forward so quickly in the wake of a midterm election that sent her into a Runoff Election where she is fighting for her political life is tied directly to her own concerns about her political fate. Even before the midterms, polling was showing that Landrieu was trailing Congressman Cassidy in a head-to-head matchup and, even now as she attempts to show her political power in advancing this bill so quickly, it seems unlikely that she’s going to be able to save herself. An internal poll released late last week, for example, showed Cassidy leading in the race by sixteen points, and another poll released yesterday put Cassidy ahead by some twenty-one points. While it’s likely that both these polls are over stating Cassidy’s lead to some extent, the fact that both national Democrats and, to at least some extent, national Republicans are pulling money out of the race despite the fact that there are still several weeks to go is a strong indication that everyone has concluded that the race in Louisiana is over and that Landrieu’s fate is sealed regardless of what happens to the Keystone XL pipeline.

As for the Keystone XL bill itself, the bill has already passed the House so if it does indeed pass the Senate then it will head straight to the President’s desk. While the White House has not committed one way or the other, the expectation is that President will veto the bill based on a number of factors ranging from an ongoing State Department review to certain court proceedings in Nebraska. That veto has been a given for some time, however, so it’s not entirely a surprise. Additionally, the current Congress does not have enough votes to override the veto, so this would be the end of the issue for this Congress. Despite that, expectations are that the issue will be quickly revived in the new Congress given the fact that the results of Election Day now appear to mean that there is a veto proof majority in both Houses of Congress in favor of the project. That majority would depend, of course, on Democrats who would be willing to vote to override a veto from President Obama. So far, none of the vetoes that President Obama has exercised — which consists only of two bills in 2009 and 2010 when Democrats still controlled both chambers of Congress — have been overridden, so it’s unclear whether Democrats in the House and Senate will be inclined to do so in this case. If they do, though, it will be a major step forward for a project that the Obama Administration has sat on for reasons that have more to do with appeasing the environmentalist wing of the Democratic Party than any objections that actually have merit. Mary Landrieu, meanwhile, will have to watch the matter advance from afar because it seems pretty clear that she is not going to be re-elected on December 6th

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Perspecticus says:

    Because the high likelihood of the eventual poisoning of the Ogalalla Aquifer and ruination of large swaths of Midwestern farmland, all so a Canadian oil company can ship it’s goods around the world, is certainly not an objection that actually has merit.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 2

  2. stonetools says:

    If they do, though, it will be a major step forward for a project that the Obama Administration has sat on for reasons that have more to do with appeasing the environmentalist wing of the Democratic Party than any objections that actually have merit.

    {Citation needed}

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  3. HarvardLaw92 says:

    What may prove interesting is the apparent determination of various Native American tribes to prevent the pipeline from crossing their territory. They can, and likely will, tie it up in court for years were it to be approved.

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  4. Neil Hudelson says:

    f they do, though, it will be a major step forward for a project that the Obama Administration has sat on for reasons that have more to do with appeasing the environmentalist wing of the Democratic Party than any objections that actually have merit.

    Tell me, are you also the type of person who points to the continued existence of winter as “proof” that AGW is fake?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    If they do, though, it will be a major step forward for a project that the Obama Administration has sat on for reasons that have more to do with appeasing the environmentalist wing of the Democratic Party than any objections that actually have merit.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAHAHAHAHAHAAA…. heehehehehehehehehe…. gasp, wheeze… Stop it Doug, yer killin’ me! Like there are ANY arguments of merit in favor of it???? When did you ever give a rat’s a$$ about merit in this discussion? Jobs? 35. Reduce the price of gas? Not needed. Line the pockets of energy company execs? Oh yeah…

    At what cost? Is it running thru your front yard? Over your water source? Yeah, we see the colors of your flag.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  6. Brainster says:

    She’s flailing around in the knowledge that shortly she is going to be about as irrelevant as this blog. Oops!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 12

  7. HarvardLaw92 says:

    And cue the sockpuppets … 😀

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  8. LaMont says:

    a major step forward for a project that the Obama Administration has sat on for reasons that have more to do with appeasing the environmentalist wing of the Democratic Party than any objections that actually have merit.

    What exactly are the merits that favor construction of the pipeline and how much value does those merits provide over the environmental concerns? Are you insinuating that there are no enviromental concerns associated with the project?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  9. Guarneri says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Just order about 5% more line pipe and a couple elbows.

    And it wasn’t you, HL, but the guy who quoted the jobs failed to consider construction, AND maintenance AND suppliers, AND refiners………you get the point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

  10. Tyrell says:

    There need to be some requirements and stipulations with this pipeline. Any spills, fumes, or leaks will be cleaned up by the oil company. All oil from this pipeline will stay in this country. Damages to cars from overflows getting onto paint will be paid for. Absolutely no additives such as the gummy ethanol.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  11. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Tyrell:

    All oil from this pipeline will stay in this country

    We don’t have the additional refinery capacity to process it, nor is there any incentive for petroleum processors to build more.

    Perhaps you want to build a lot of storage tanks?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  12. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Tyrell:

    y. Damages to cars from overflows getting onto paint will be paid for.

    Ok, definitive proof he’s trolling. Triumph, is that you??

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  13. superdestroyer says:

    @Perspecticus:

    Can you please cite the sections of the EIS prepared by the Obama Administration that states that there is a much higher likelyhood of uncontrolled releases to underground aquifers versus using the railroad or existing pipelines. Could you also cite the section that states that most of the refined products produced using oil from Canada will be exported.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  14. stonetools says:

    Harr.

    During his midterm campaign, top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell regularly deflected questions about climate change by saying he is “not a scientist.”

    But apparently McConnell will make an exception when it comes to the Keystone XL pipeline. In remarks on the Senate floor, hours before a vote on a bill that fast-tracks construction of the pipeline, McConnell pointed to the “science” supporting the legislation.

    “Those who took a serious look at the science and the potential benefits reached the conclusion long ago,” he said Tuesday. “They understand that the whole drama over Keystone has been as protracted as it is unnecessary. We hope to turn the page on all of that today.”

    The same thing can be said of Republican obstinacy on climate change: It’s been protracted and unnecessary. Too bad Congress is nowhere near turning that particular page

    I need a new hypocrisy meter. The old one done melted down.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  15. michael reynolds says:

    I just think this is a huge non-issue. I don’t see why liberals are so upset – this thing is crossing barren nothing, and it won’t add significantly to global warming, and it’s Canadian shale not ours. But neither do I believe it will create a fraction of the claimed jobs, and even if it did it won’t budge the UE rate by a tenth of a point. At best it will make some very rich stockholders richer – which of course is the real reason Republicans love it.

    The price of oil is dropping, this resource is not necessary, it won’t last very long anyway, and it will neither destroy the world nor save the economy. My only requirement would be that funds be set aside to remove the massive eyesore once we figure out in 20 years that the oil is used up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  16. stonetools says:

    @michael reynolds:

    My only requirement would be that funds be set aside to remove the massive eyesore once we figure out in 20 years that the oil is used up.

    Think the oil companies will pay for that? Harr, Harr, I knock myself out sometimes.

    What irritates me is that when the big messy pipeline accident happens, folks who are bleating about alarmist tree huggers are going to say, “No one could have predicted” when environmentalists darn well did predict, red staters are going to be bawling, “Big Gumint, save us!” and our tax dollars are going to have to bail out their a$$es-again!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  17. Ron Beasley says:

    With oil at $75 bbl the pipeline is irrelevant. They need $85 – 90 bbl to make the tar sands economically feasible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  18. Jeremy R says:

    One of the main reasons Keystone XL enjoys so much public support is that people have a gut understanding that it will lower energy prices for them. I doubt it’s possible at this point, but if that fantasy conventional wisdom could be overcome, support would tank:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-25/keystone-weirdonomics-means-gas-prices-won-t-be-getting-any-cheaper-.html

    [T]he pipeline would actually increase prices of gasoline for much of the country, according to at least three studies that have looked into it. Keystone would divert crude from Midwest refineries to Gulf Coast refineries, where it would then be shipped to more expensive markets. Bypassing heartland refineries could drive up prices at home.

    For people living in the Midwest, Great Plains and Rocky Mountains, it could add 20 cents a gallon to the price at the pump.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  19. @Perspecticus: Yes, just like the dozen or so major pipelines that cross the aquifer (and hundreds of minor ones) already have already despoiled the water.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  20. Curious. Since Landrieu is going to lose regardless, after all these years why is Harry Reid allowing the vote now???

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  21. Jeremy R says:

    @Let’s Be Free:

    Since Landrieu is going to lose regardless, after all these years why is Harry Reid allowing the vote now

    IMO it’s a tactical response to the GOP takeover of congress, and Landrieu’s run-off is just a convenient excuse.

    Republican’s were guaranteed to pass a Keystone XL bill once in power, and there were going to be democratic defections, as a number of Dems have been publicly advocating for the pipeline, and would feel compelled to prove to their fervor to their constituents. By having the vote now, you deny the Republican’s the ability to claim they overcame obstruction with an early bipartisan action (since it will have already been done under the previous congress) and since Red / Purple state Dems will already have had the opportunity to prove their carbon-energy bonafides, they’ll have more leeway to vote against a potential GOP bill if it has all sorts of nasty riders or is attached to an unrelated bad bill.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @michael reynolds:

    this thing is crossing barren nothing,

    Michael? You have never been more wrong.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  23. michael reynolds says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    It looks to me like the first human habitation is Houston. If there’s a leak it looks like it will be in some wheat field in Nebraska. No?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  24. Tyrell says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Well, I don’t know. The gas pump control handles today seem to always drip a little after they cut off, getting gas on the car, clothes, shoes (I once ruined a good pair of shoes pumping gas) , and hands. Contrast today’s fill-up method with what I saw as a child. You drove into the gas station (that’s what they were called back then) and an attendant came out, pumped the gas, checked the oil and tire pressure, and washed your windshield. Now go forward to the “convenience” store of today. You pump your own gas. If you need air, you put 6 quarters in the air pump (that will fill two tires), but half the time the stupid thing is broke. Oil ? Local car dealer will “check and top off fluids” for $100 or so. Also, day old convenience store coffee runs $1 or more, and when you go to pay you get stuck behind some nut that takes ten minutes to figure out what kind of cigarettes they want !!
    The newer stores are much nicer and offer fresh pastries, a lot better coffee, and food to order. So what you have now are food places that sell gas.

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