Senate Democrats are flipping the script on Mitch McConnell by introducing a series of amendments to the bill authorizing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline that would turn the project into a real job creator.
According to Politico,
Senate Democrats are floating a handful of amendments to a Republican Keystone XL pipeline bill to prohibit exports of the Canadian oil and to push green energy as they prepare to take on the role of the minority party of the upper chamber.
— Ban the export of oil transported through the pipeline, language that Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has frequently floated in both chambers of Congress;
— Require U.S.-produced iron, steel and manufactured goods “to be used for the pipeline construction, connection, operation, and maintenance.” It’s another familiar measure that senators like Markey and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) have offered.
— Require “that for every job created by the pipeline, an equal or greater amount of jobs is created through clean energy investments.” Schumer and Stabenow highlight legislation from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that would cut the price of home solar units through rebates.
— Restore funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to levels authorized in the 2009 economic stimulus bill under the condition that seniors and veterans get first priority.
— Prohibit a state from permitting a foreign corporation to invoke eminent domain. This addresses a key part of a case that will soon be decided by the Nebraska Supreme Court on the legality of the state’s approval of a route for the pipeline there.
The requirement that U.S. made products be used permanently on the pipeline would mean that the project would have some long-term benefit for American workers. The ban on the export of the oil would mean that the project really would impact North American supplies. Currently, the oil is destined to be sold overseas with the U.S. assuming all the risk while getting none of the rewards. A requirement that an equal amount of clean energy jobs be created in exchange for authorization of the construction of the pipeline will certainly bring about howls of rage from Big Oil and their congressional allies.
Senate Democrats and Independents are trying to turn Keystone XL into a project that would provide some long-term benefits to the American people. The Republican bill that would authorize the construction of the pipeline is a thinly disguised gift to Big Oil. Keystone XL won’t create jobs, and studies have shown that the pipeline may cause gasoline prices to increase in the Midwest.
Senate Democrats are putting Republicans in the position of having to choose between heating assistance for senior citizens and veterans, supporting American made products, or giving a gift to Big Oil.
Republicans will most likely vote down all of the Democratic amendments, but Democrats have fired the first shot in what will be a two years long operation to expose the real Republican agenda.