Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) didn’t hold anything back when he called the Senate’s passage of a bill that authorized the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline crazy.
In a statement Sen. Sanders said, “With the scientific community telling us loudly and clearly that we must transform our energy system away from fossil fuels if we are to combat climate change, it is totally crazy for the Congress to support the production and transportation of some of the dirtiest oil on the planet.”
The passage of this bill was crazy on many different. In terms of politics, it was absolutely insane for Republicans to waste nearly a month of time debating and passing a bill that the president has vowed to veto on numerous occasions. It has been well known for weeks that Republicans in both the House and Senate did not have the votes required to override President Obama’s veto. With gas prices plunging to a low point, the main Republican argument that Keystone XL would make America more energy independent (it won’t) has fallen on deaf ears.
In terms of politics, it would have made more sense to pass a bill that the president might actually sign instead of wasting precious time on a bill that is nothing more than a symbolic gesture. The Keystone XL bill turned into a quagmire of bad politics that is another Republican backed step away from real job creation legislation.
The main reason Republicans brought this bill up first was that they thought they could pass it quickly and set up a confrontation with the president that would allow them to flex the new political muscle. What the Keystone debacle revealed is that Democrats and the president are still able to outmuscle the new Republican Congressional majority.
As an energy policy, the Keystone XL bill is an absurd step backwards. At a time when the country should be moving away from fossil fuels. The decline in gas prices has served as a reminder of one of the basic laws of economics. Decreased demand will lower costs. There is no good reason to construct the pipeline when none of the oil will be sold to the United States. The oil is not American oil. It is destined to be sold on the global market. It is crazy to pretend that the pipeline contains any real energy benefits for the American people.
The Keystone XL pipeline is an even worse environmental policy. The pipeline will only add to the risk of an accident or an environmental disaster while doing nothing to combat climate change.
Bernie Sanders spoke the truth. The Senate made a crazy move by passing Keystone XL, but 62 senators once again put empty political gestures ahead of good policy for the American people.