Update on Congress and Keystone XL

News — the tar sands action team December 17, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Dear Friends,

As you might know, the Keystone tar sands pipeline is back in play.

This morning, the Senate passed a bill that requires a 60-day, expedited approval process for the pipeline in return for a payroll tax cut, and the President has said he will sign it.

The news has been swirling around Washington the last few days, with one report after another of deals and deadlines. (It’s a little weird to think that six months ago, when we started the campaign to stop this pipeline, almost no one had even heard of this thing and now it’s the center of frantic bargaining—that’s a real tribute to your efforts).

Here’s what we do know:

  1. The dirty energy industry wants the pipeline fast-tracked, and is demanding that the President grant or deny a permit within two months. They’re going to do all they can to make that happen.
  2. The administration knows that Americans don’t want that permit granted. They know because many of you encircled the White House in November,  and submitted more public comments than on any energy project in history, and because yesterday the climate movement flooded the White House switchboard with so many phone calls that the busy signal was the sound of the day. For all that work, thank you.

Here’s what we don’t know: what happens next.

Our hope — and what you should ask the President for when you write him — is that when he signs the bill he will say the obvious thing:

“Two months is not long enough to review the pipeline. The Canadians themselves have just delayed review of their tar sands pipelines over safety concerns, and we’ve just come through a year that set a record for billion-dollar climate-related disasters; I’m not going to do a rush job just to please the oil industry lobbyists. So this pipeline is dead.”

Since the State Department has already, in essence, said two months is not enough time, this should be straightforward.

We should know how it’s going to play out within 48 hours or so. We’re of course ready to fight like heck.

But for this weekend? If you haven’t gotten through to the White House, or you think you can round up some friends, you can send them a message here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments  (the switchboard is now closed for the weekend).

Once you’ve done that, I recommend eggnog, football, caroling, Hannukah-shopping – and checking the email every once in a while? We’re hanging fire on this, and we’ll let you know when we find out what’s going down and if rapid reaction of some kind is required.

So so many thanks for your continued good hearted work,


P.S. We know one other thing too. On Thursday night the Republican debating society came out in favor the pipeline, which is easy for them to do since they’ve all now denied climate science. Newt Gingrich in particular blamed “San Francisco environmental extremists” with holding things up. I’m sure our California crew is happy for the shout-out, but it seemed a little unfair to Nebraska farmers, Texas ranchers, Florida College students, New York trade unionists, Wall Street occupiers, and even us Vermont granola eaters. We’re a big broad bunch and we’re going to stay that way!

  1. Your HEART is in the right place but your focus is WRONG!
    Instead of bugging and crying to OBAMA you should have protested the republicans!
    They are the ones who tied the pipeline to unempolyment and the payroll tax—putting Obama in a box! They should have been called OUT for the greedy scum that they are!
    You left Obama in a no-win situation!

  2. Jill says:

    Question: On what basis does this bill-almost-law require Obama to make the KXL decision? Is it a NEPA-type process, but faster? Or something else?

  3. Vladilyich says:

    I just sent a nice letter to the White House. Let’s see if it gets any attention. Unfortunately, I didn’t copy it so that I could paste it here, but here are the general facts that I brought out.

    “I am an American currently living in Canada. Many Canadians are in favour of the pipeline, but 50% are against it. There are many things that are not reported in the American Press that are very pertinent here. The reason that there are 50% of Canadians in favour of the pipeline is that it means Canadian jobs. The touted 20,000 jobs will go to Canadians, NOT Americans.

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper has already contracted the output of the pipeline to Chine. The United States will not receive oil to alleviate importing Middle Eastern energy.

    The only thing that the United States will receive from the construction of this pipeline is the potential for ecological disaster — no jobs, no energy.

    My MP (Member of Parliament) is a family friend of my Wife’s. He’s confirmed all of this.

  4. Mstallmann says:

    I’m confused folks. Obama, like you and me, has all the information he needs to give this pipeline a big thumbs down. I haven’t liked his decision to put this thing back to the State Department from the get go. Why is he stalling? I’m glad he only has 2 months, but I’d be happier if he’d quit waisting everybody’s time and just say NO! TO THE KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE when everyone gets back to work on Monday.

  5. eddie says:

    In my lifetime the Communist Chinese government back the two countries we were at war with, Korea and North Vietnam. I personally feel it is an act of teason to support the Keystone xl tar sands pipeline whose product will be sent to these two countries with their military getting first priority in it’s use. We ave sacrificed many lives to the Communist Chinese. What does it take for Congress to see this. Dirty money, dirty fuel, dirty congress persons.

    • Tobe says:

      You know to be fair for the sake of all people, the Chinese people were also subjected to their gov’t’s cruelty–they had less choices than we do here. Also it was the U.S. corporation that betrayed Americans when they took all the jobs over to cheap labor China while charging us the same prices as they keep the difference as profit. You simple view is a distraction from the truth and the real course of action is not to buy products from companies that did not considered Americans well fair. Your view of China’s involvement with North Korea and North Vietnam would be no different than the U.S.’s involvement with Israel. Each country is supporting their allies, like you’d support your friends first before your enemy. So if we do the same you can’t complain about someone doing what you’re doing. Quit the one way thinking and focus on who acturally sold us out–the unpatriotic money whoring U.S. corporations. You and all your friends should voice your position on not buying “Made in China” if you really care. Also consider this, the average Chinese salary is $75/month; their gov’t took what they should be earning and gave it to the U.S. almost $2T dollars as loans. That money could be spent of improving the below U.S. provety Chinese, but its citizens didn’t have a choice, and now U.S. is trying to paint China as an agressor with probable intention to invade us, hence the military base in Australia. Given the U.S.’s history, the real powers that is have no intention of paying back China–it would be cheaper to start a war with China so we don’t have to pay back the debt. They don’t need U.S. or Canadian fuel, they could get all they need from the Middle East who probably prefer to deal with China than the U.S. The reason for the pipeline is first and foremost for the 1% to get richer while they live in their fantasy world of perfect harmony. If people continue to vote for the light of selfish and self ingratiating egotistically maniac like Newt the Nuke, and the white version of Obama Mitt, we’ll be in the same sinking boat. Vote Ron Paul and let him do the people’s work for the people. (I am only making this pitch to answer your last sentence.)

  6. Chizled says:

    You tree huggers are out of your mind . Everyone of you depends on oil . There is no near term better solution to help our energy needs . This is a lot better solution than being so dependant on Middle east oil . Sure long term we need renewable energy solutions . But this is the best near term bet . And it will help our economy with jobs . There are millions of pipelines in the ground already . Do you you think there is zero risk with the pipelines we already have ? This is just a better solution then importing so much middle east oil .

    • David says:

      Of course almost all of us in depend on oil–you’re right about that. But the pipeline isn’t intended to supply oil to the U.S. Much, if not most of it will be exported. The purpose is to give the Canadian oil industry access to Asian and European markets.

    • Anonymous says:

      This comment points up that the movement against the Keystone Pipeline has not done a good job of framing the debate over this issue. The public has no idea how dirty and polluting the oil is from the Tar Sands that would flow across America, and what a threat it is to public and planetary health. We need to do a far better job of talking about the source and type of oil this represents, otherwise jobs becomes the central issue here, which it should not be.

      • Tobe says:

        You’re right. My first thoughts were if it’s such a GREAT thing why isn’t that pipe line running through west to east of Canada? Why don’t they create the jobs in Canada for their citizens, don’t they need work? The answer is, the Canadian said hell no. So they come down here because they know our crap politicians can be bought, which they were. I posted different ways we can be create work–a lot of China’s green energy businesses and manufacture would jump at the chance of producing green energy here. There’s a reason why they aren’t invited. And nothing would work if we keep going in the direction they are herding us in. Americans don’t think creatively proactively anymore, they have been twiddled through propaganda from the media, advertisement to simply believe and accept, but not think and be responsible for their own lives and future. We accept radiated meat, GM fruits and vegetables–what is natural foods in the United States. Why live in a free country if you’re not going to think and act freely? People should go to http://thomas.loc.gov website, it’s a gov’t website on bills, laws, voting records, etc., of Congress. Reading propose bills give you a good insight on how your future is being shaped for you. Though yet laws, they reflect the mindset of those incharge of our lives. It is scary.

    • Tobe says:

      You gest, no near solution to energy needs: tell me how do you manage when your salary is cut back by 50%? You forego non-sense things, stop engaging in foolish entertainment, focus on the essentials–you conserve. You think backwards and your life is that. The best solution is to have all glass window in building fitted with solar panels, use motion sensors to turn on/off office lights, have individual work lamps, reduce plastic products, walk up the stairs–even half way helps, bike or scooter, write, ask, and demand more environmentally friendly and less energy producing products from brands, and get rid of cental air in offices and homes, which is bad for you–etc., (can go on and on with ideas). All these things can be done right now–and if each of us commits to doing this we would reduce the national energy consumption by 30% and still live comfortably and healthier. Pledge your 30% of saved energy money to green energy and think of where we’ll be. Its the energy bubble they are pushing at you and like the housing bubble you eat it up. Thinking the same leads to the same results–no where!

  7. Colleen Orsburn says:

    I went through a cycle of despair and anger (with some ranting) after the Senate’s action, but ended up thinking it’s a good thing.

    1 – Assuming President Obama signs the bill for the sake of 2 months (!) of tax withholding extension, we hit the streets again now. No need to remind, reeducate, reinterest the public and press, as there would be 18 months from now.

    2 – This gives the President a protected opportunity to deny the pipeline permit. The state department has said quite recently that it is not possible to make an informed decision before completion of the new impact assessment, implying that a forced early decision would have to be a No.

    3 – In the likely event that the President instead approves the pipeline permit within 60 days, we know where we stand in the 2012 election. No anguishing about “well, we have to vote for Obama because we know a Republican president would approve the pipeline but Obama just might deny in his second term.”

  8. Here in a nutshell is what you guys have done:

    The republicans know that Obama want’s to protect the middle class by extending unemployment and keeping the payroll tax which will put $1500 in the pockets of HURTING americans.

    If Obama keeps his campaign promise to enviornmentalist, the gop knows it will hurt him with the unions and virtually halt unemployment and the payroll tax. If he doesn’t keep his promise to enviornmentalist, then he keeps U.E. and the payroll tax but will be forced to COMPLY with the gop on the pipeline and the phoney jobs!

    If obama caves, then the gop KNOWS that you guys won’t protest them but yell outside the whitehouse, and blame Obama not the gop an or tea party.

    Instead of bombarding his office with messages not to cave in, you should have CALLED OUT the gop for what they are and what they are doing! They do not care about you! They do not care about the middle class! They only care about keeping the RICH in power!

  9. Tobe says:

    I think we should voice our poignant disapproval to those HR that included the bill as well as writing to the Canadian Parliament expressing the U.S. citizens anger on what their business is trying to push on the American people. We should express that pushing this poison tar on the American people will severely damage tourism to Canada. We also need to find out why they cannot go through Canada and use those reasons to justify why we shouldn’t allow it either. If they want that pipeline, they should ripe across their country and keep the profit–who would not want that if it’s so “safe and profitable.” They could create all them jobs for Canadians. Because they can’t sell the pitch to their own people they come down here knowing our Congressmen can be bought–and they were. It is high time, we shove back hard, fast, and furious with words, our votes, and boycott all establishments who participates. 60% of our daily use of energy is for NONE essential crap. Conserve and each person can reduce 30% of daily dead-waste energy consumption. These states with no imaginaton electives should reach out to companies in China and invite them to manufacture and produce solar panels here and start installing them. The energy is here, the market is here, their status would be established here–I guarantee you they’ll come. When people act the same they will think the same and nothing will change. Someone led to believe you need all this energy–really! They led you to believe you need that ten room house when you spent 80% of your life in two rooms. Why don’t they focus on converting plastic back to petroleum–plastic burn! Cut back and demand green energy, support companies that pushes green energy–change won’t come it you keep doing, thinking the same and giving in all the time.

  10. Tobe says:

    Ignore the date after name, this list are HR who sponsored the bill. Bills contain a bunch of proposed laws, covering wide ranging matters so when you send your email make sure to put the “Objection to the Keystone Pipeline” in subject bar. Email address is http://www.house.gov/writerep/firstname.lastname@mail.house.gov or go to this site
    https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml to locate rep and send message from there. Do not abuse this privilege with spam or rants. Just short concise objections.

    Rep Berg, Rick [ND] – 7/6/2011
    Rep Blackburn, Marsha [TN-7] – 3/31/2011
    Rep Broun, Paul C. [GA-10] – 3/31/2011
    Rep Burton, Dan [IN-5] – 3/31/2011
    Rep Carter, John R. [TX-31] – 3/31/2011
    Rep Coffman, Mike [CO-6] – 3/31/2011
    Rep Duncan, John J., Jr. [TN-2] – 3/31/2011
    Rep Ellmers, Renee L. [NC-2] – 4/13/2011
    Rep Fleming, John [LA-4] – 3/31/2011
    Rep Forbes, J. Randy [VA-4] – 5/4/2011
    Rep Gallegly, Elton [CA-24] – 3/31/2011
    Rep Granger, Kay [TX-12] – 4/5/2011
    Rep Harris, Andy [MD-1] – 3/31/2011
    Rep Heller, Dean [NV-2] – 3/31/2011
    Rep Herger, Wally [CA-2] – 3/31/2011
    Rep Huelskamp, Tim [KS-1] – 3/31/2011
    Rep Johnson, Bill [OH-6] – 3/31/2011
    Rep Labrador, Raul R. [ID-1] – 4/5/2011
    Rep Lamborn, Doug [CO-5] – 3/31/2011
    Rep Landry, Jeffrey M. [LA-3] – 3/31/2011
    Rep Latta, Robert E. [OH-5] – 3/31/2011
    Rep Lummis, Cynthia M. [WY] – 3/31/2011
    Rep McMorris Rodgers, Cathy [WA-5] – 3/31/2011
    Rep Myrick, Sue Wilkins [NC-9] – 4/5/2011
    Rep Neugebauer, Randy [TX-19] – 4/13/2011
    Rep Nunes, Devin [CA-21] – 3/31/2011
    Rep Pearce, Stevan [NM-2] – 3/31/2011
    Rep Pence, Mike [IN-6] – 3/31/2011
    Rep Posey, Bill [FL-15] – 3/31/2011
    Rep Rehberg, Denny [MT] – 5/13/2011
    Rep Roe, David P. [TN-1] – 3/31/2011
    Rep Scott, Tim [SC-1] – 4/15/2011
    Rep Simpson, Michael K. [ID-2] – 3/31/2011
    Rep Walberg, Tim [MI-7] – 3/31/2011
    Rep Wilson, Joe [SC-2] – 4/13/2011
    Rep Woodall, Rob [GA-7] – 4/5/2011
    Rep Young, Don [AK] – 3/31/2011

  11. Tobe says:

    If you want see bill’s text go to http://thomas.loc.gov (no www), select “Bill Number” in upper middle column (or wherever at the time you visit) type in HR 1287 (bill that shows sponsors and introduced the Keystone pipeline, amount other things, pipeline is in sec. 309 of the Bill) or the Senate’s amendments of original bill with HR 3630 (this replaced HR 1287, Keystone is at sec.1002).

  12. MarkS says:

    If you still feel inclined to vote Demublican in 2012, consider voting for a candidate that supports the “Climate Movement” and the 99%. http://www.darcy2012.com/

  13. Anonymous says:

    Wrote a couple of blogs about the dirty deal. http://www.blogsmonroe.com/world/2011/12/congressional-allies-of-big-oil-hold-payroll-tax-bill-hostage-to-extort-xl-pipeline-deal/


    Right now I’m trying to track new investments in tar sands oil. I’d like to know what congressional members have done so lately. The XL Pipeline rider on the Payroll Tax Cut bill coincided too closely with TransCanada’s announcement it had new binding commitments. I’m looking for insider trading.

  14. In order to extend the payroll tax and protect unemployment and medicare for millions of hurting people, Obama had to compromise and EXPOSE the gop for who they are and what they stand for.
    As a result, the american people won a small victory. However , the gop knows that if it can get the unions and enviornmentalist fighting over this issue and blame Obama then they are set for 2012.
    Senator Mcconnel is smart. If Obama opposes the pipeline then he is not for jobs and he will alienate the unions. If he supports the pipeline then he risk alienating the environmentalist and risk potential votes and a protest at the white house–something the gop would love.
    Solution: PROTEST, EXPOSE, and CALL out the GOP–the REAL culprits!

  15. Western Ranchers says:

    We need this pipeline to stop that is the only way to stop new construction and get rid of the unions

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