Republicans have been trying to convince the American people that the Keystone XL pipeline will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and that it will create American jobs. Yet on Tuesday they voted to table an amendment introduced by Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Sen Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) that would have required keeping the pipeline oil in the United States for domestic use. Republicans unanimously rejected bringing up the amendment to a floor vote. So much for reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil. As critics have repeatedly pointed out, the proposed Keystone XL pipeline will not reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil because the oil will be exported, after it passes through America’s midsection. Republicans proved that point by explicitly voting down any efforts to keep the pipeline oil here.
Republicans also rejected an amendment proposed by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) to require that if the pipeline is approved, it must be built with American iron and steel. Every Republican, except North Carolina Senator Richard Burr, voted to table that amendment as well. So much for caring about American jobs. Every Democratic Senator approved of the Franken amendment, including pipeline supporters like Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Joe Donnelly (IN), Mark Warner (VA), Joe Manchin (WV), Claire McCaskill (MO), and Jon Tester (MT). Every Democratic Senator except Heitkamp, Warner, and Manchin also supported the Markey-Baldwin amendment.
Whatever else can be said about the few Democrats who support construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, at least all of them want to guarantee that it is built with American materials. Most of them also want to ensure that the oil stays here. The Republicans, by contrast, don’t care where the material for the pipeline comes from, or where the oil goes. They only say they care about creating American jobs, and they care about reducing our dependence on foreign oil because they believe those talking points will help sell the idea to the American people.
Right now the public isn’t buying. Only 41 percent of Americans currently favor construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. That support may drop even further in the wake of a significant pipeline leak in Eastern Montana that has created a state of emergency and left local residents without drinking water. The 50,000 gallon oil spill in Montana came from a 12-inch pipeline. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline is 30 to 36-inch pipeline. For that reason, any rupture on a section of the Keystone XL pipeline, if it is built, would likely be much larger than the Montana pipeline breach.
Democratic Senators put forth amendments to test the GOP’s commitment to creating American jobs and their dedication to reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil. The test results came in loud and clear. The GOP failed both tests. The Republican Party doesn’t care about American jobs or keeping the pipeline oil in our nation for domestic consumption. They only care about further lining the pockets of the Koch Brothers and the big multinational oil companies that hold leases on the tar sands in Alberta.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.