Hoeven amendment 62 to 37, a non-binding amendment that expresses support for building the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
That’s the U.S. Senate, the chamber of Congress with a Democratic majority.
The planned Keystone XL pipeline would bring tarsands oil from its source in Canada to refineries in Texas.
Tarsands oil represents a whole new source of fossil fuel at a time
when we need to be moving in the opposite direction, burning less fossil
fuel and desisting from pumping planet-warming carbon dioxide into our
atmosphere. Before the tasands effort, it was just starting to look
like oil supplies were dwindling and nature, by removing carbon sources,
would force on us the much-needed changes we could not force on
But today’s Senate action could have been much worse. The action is a non-binding amendment, toothless perhaps because so many prevailed on their senators
to vote against the thing Big Oil had asked for: fast-track,
Congressional approval of the pipeline. Fast track approval would
override the process that’s already in place: an environmental impact
statement (currently being overseen by the Department of State) to be
followed by a national interest determination by the Department of
State, and then permit issuance or denial.
Still, why would the Senate give big oil even this amendment, this
“March is climate-destroying, land-confiscating, spill-threatening
pipeline month” amendment?
Payback to their donors maybe? As Oil Change International reports,
“the ten original co-sponsors of the Hoeven amendment received an
average of $807,517 from the fossil fuel industry, 254% more than the
average non-sponsoring senator, for a total of $8 million dollars from
the industry.” Further, “those voting for the amendment received
$499,648 from fossil fuel interests, on average, and nearly $31 million
in total over their careers. Meanwhile, those voting against the
amendment received $143,372 on average.”
The Department of State issued a draft supplemental environmental
impact statement earlier this month. Astonishingly, that study finds
that the pipeline won’t contribute to climate change because if it isn’t
built the fossil fuel companies will find some other way to transport
the tarsands oil. As Assistant Secretary of State Kerri-Ann Jones said in a teleconference
on March 1, the day the draft was issued, “we find in this draft that
the approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including
this proposed project, really remains unlikely to significantly impact
the rate of development of the oil sands, or the continued demand for
heavy crude oil in the U.S.”
It’s a draft. It’s open to public comment until April 22. To tell State what you think, send them a comment at firstname.lastname@example.org - OEN