The debate looks to have finally hit Washington in form of a Senate vote.
Describing the Keystone XL pipeline debate as a back-alley knife fight would be doing the entire debate a disservice. After all, unlike the Keystone XL pipeline debate, there’s a certain civility to back-alley knife fighting.
With both sides having spent millions of dollars in lobbying efforts and the issue being debated on cable news for weeks, the Keystone XL pipeline issue has been one of the most contentious political debates this year. And the debate finally looks to have reached the Senate.
The energy legislation was introduced by Sens. John Hoeven (Republican-North Dakota) and Mary Landrieu (Democrat-Louisiana) last Thursday on the Senate floor. Proponents say they could get enough votes to approve the measure, with currently 56 senators on board (45 Republicans and 11 Democrats). They would need 60 votes to pass the bill through. Passing the Keystone measure would also bypass the current State Department’s review of the proposed pipeline, which announced another delay in its decision last month. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (Democrat-Nevada), who has been opposed to it in the past, is said to be willing to engage in negations over the Keystone measure if it meant moving the energy efficiency legislation forward.
As of right now, the major road block to passing the Keystone measure comes in the form of an amendment introduced by Sen. David Vitter (Republican-Louisiana). Sen. Vitter is said to latch an amendment onto the energy efficiency bill that would cut federal health care contributions for Congress and political appointees. Another amendment that Republicans would like to tack onto the energy efficiency legislation, other than Keystone and Vitter’s, is one from Sen. Joe Manchin (Democrat-West Virginia) that would block the EPA from implementing its proposed greenhouse gas rule for future power plants.
These amendments have made it difficult for Democrats to get behind the Keystone measure thus far. Yet for some Democrats, it’s no secret that they would rather not vote on the bill till after election season, due to the pressure from both environmentalists and energy contractors.
The Keystone XL pipeline measure would easily pass through the Republican controlled House if it were to get that far. However, even if the legislation were to pass both chambers, President Obama could just as easily veto the measure making all this mute. Regardless, with such a contentious piece of legislation finally hitting the Senate floor, politicians have no choice but to finally take a stand on the issue. Then again, they could always abstain…
It looks like the vote on the Keystone XL pipeline in the Senate will be stalled for now. As of Wednesday, neither side could come to agreement, with Republicans insisting they include Sen. Vidder’s amendment to prevent the EPA from imposing greenhouse gas regulations on coal-mining plants later this year. As of right now both the energy efficiency bill and the Keystone XL pipeline amendment look to be dead at the moment.