Keystone XL Delay is Political Tyranny (UPDATE)

Keystone XL Delay is Political Tyranny (UPDATE)

November 18, 2014

By: Patrick Hedger -Policy Director, American Encore
**(UPDATE 11/19/2014): The measure failed to clear a cloture vote in the Senate by one vote, 59-41 with a 60 vote threshold. Cloture allows for debate to end and for a bill to proceed to a simple majority vote. In effect, Democrats filibustered the Keystone XL bill.

Statement by American Encore Policy Director Patrick Hedger:
“Even if the measure had passed, it’s a disgrace to our entire governing system that the Keystone situation has escalated to this point. Freedom of commerce apparently isn’t important to Democratic leadership until it can benefit one of their own.”**

Tonight, the lame-duck Senate is expected to vote on approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline, a proposed pipeline which would cross the US’s international border with Canada and transport crude oil to US refineries in the Midwest and Gulf Coast regions. TransCanada, the corporation behind the project, has waited over half-a-decade for approval to begin construction on the 875-mile pipeline. Whether or not the measure passes or fails tonight, this represents a fundamental failure of everything our government is supposed to represent.

To be clear, the ONLY reason that the vote will occur tonight is to help bolster the fading chances of Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana as she heads for a runoff election in December.

Up until now, President Obama has refused make a decision on the pipeline despite several environmental safety reviews that have suggested the pipeline would be perfectly safe with a negligible environmental impact. Attempts by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives have been thwarted by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s iron grip on which bills make it to the Senate floor for a vote. Yet now that one of his own is in deep trouble in the Deep South, Harry Reid has agreed to let a vote happen.

This is entire situation is an absolute travesty and flies in the face in everything that this country was founded on. It’s not that the pipeline shouldn’t be built, or that Congress shouldn’t override the president. All that is fine. The pipeline absolutely should be built. Detractors of the project claim it won’t lower gas prices or create that many jobs. Maybe they’re right, but such claims completely miss the point.

We, as Americans, are supposed to be free to pursue ventures from which we can potentially benefit. TransCanada and its American business partners would not be seeking to build the pipeline if neither of them could gain from its existence. It’s this mutual benefit that drives economic progress which liberals and their zero-sum perspective tend to be oblivious to.

Yet the freedoms of the American beneficiaries of the Keystone XL project, from the refiners to the contractors that would be building the actual pipeline, have been completely obstructed by powerful individuals in government. President Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate have repeatedly blocked approval of the project in order to score political points with the environmentalist pillar of the liberal base. Yet they know Keystone XL poses no significant environmental risks, not just because of the multiple environmental reviews that gave it a green-thumbs up.

No, instead we can be assured that they have all the confidence in the world that Keystone XL poses no significant environmental risk because of the simple fact the vote is occurring tonight. Harry Reid and other Senate Democrats are now willing to allow the pipeline to go through after 5+ years of vehement obstruction to perhaps help Senator Landrieu, who is all but destined to lose. Her defeat is as certain as Keystone XL’s safety.

While this vote tonight is good news for Keystone XL and its supporters, it’s a terrible sign of what our government has become. Our Constitution created a government that was supposed to protect American citizens’ freedoms from political tyranny. Yet now, the freedoms of those Americans who stand to benefit from the Keystone XL project may only be granted for the sake of the political benefit of desperate power brokers, including a malicious Senate Leader clinging to every last scrap of influence he has left.

Thus, regardless of the vote tonight, the Keystone XL debate should not end. Instead the debate should be expanded to a complete reflection on what our government has become. As Americans, we celebrate the idea of “freedom” often, yet this Keystone XL situation begs a tragic question: Are our freedoms guaranteed by our institutions in government, or only granted when they befit the powers within them?

It's Time for an American Encore