Republicans Announce Priority Is To Dance With The Ones That Brung ‘Em

Dave Johnson

Republicans have announced that their first order of business in the new Congress will be to try to force the Keystone XL Pipeline through. This prioritizing shows that they understand who paid their way to the dance.

In “Republicans Say They’ll Act Fast to Push Agenda,” the New York Times reports, “The House is set to pass legislation this week expediting the Keystone XL pipeline; the Senate is making it the first order of business as well.”

This would bypass the normal procedure of government whereby the State Department reviews the proposal. President Obama has said he would veto the bill for this reason.

The Keystone Pipeline will move “up to 830,000 barrels” each day of Canadian tar sands oil to a U.S. port so it can be sold to China and elsewhere. It uses eminent domain to seize land from ranchers, and crosses sacred Native American land. It creates only 35 permanent U.S. jobs.

Moving this oil to a port for sale to China instead of here helps alleviate the glut of oil in the central U.S. that has been driving down the price of gasoline inside the U.S., thereby bringing prices – and oil company profits — up. This is why U.S. oil companies have joined with the Canadian oil giants to push the Keystone proposal.

Senate Democrats are planning to introduce amendments that will pin down and publicize the motivation of Republicans in pushing Keystone as their first priority. These include amendments to require that steel used in the pipeline be made in the U.S., to ban the export of oil shipped through the pipeline and to add renewable energy incentives to offset the climate damage and price increases the pipeline would cause.

The website Dirty Energy Money helps track the money that oil and coal companies give to politicians. Also see the Oil and Gas Influence and Lobbying summary at Open Secrets. Needless to say, Republicans receive the bulk of oil and gas industry bribes contributions.

A 2012 Moyers & Company post, “Tracking Political Contributions from Oil and Coal” pointed out that Republicans have received substantial funding from oil and gas companies:

In the last two years, Speaker of the House John Boehner has received the most – over $800,000. And since 1999, two Texas Republicans — Senator John Cornyn, chair of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Energy and Natural Resources, and Representative Joe Barton, chairman emeritus of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce — have each accepted more than $2 million in contributions from the industry.

This does not count “dark” money, think-tank contributions and other funding that supports Republican electoral efforts.

Call your representative and senators, let them know you are paying attention and ask them to support the Democratic amendments to the bill.

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