Opinion: U.S. Senators for sale?

Map of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Big Oil calls in chips; U.S. Senators seek to override Obama’s Keystone XL pipeline rejection with legislation

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — In what may go down as one of most blatantly cynical and hypocritical political moves in recent memory, a group of 44 U.S. senators introduced legislation to revive the Keystone XL pipeline.

Despite President Obama’s huge strides in developing sources of sustainable, renewable homegrown energy through solar and wind, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) characterized Obama’s decision to reject the pipeline as “a failure in leadership from one of the most anti-American-energy Administrations in our nation’s history.”

This rhetoric flies in the face of any logic, given that the pipeline comes from Canada, which, of course, means that the oil is being imported, not to mention Obama’s progress on renewable energy, as well as his push to drill for oil in the Arctic and to sell new oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

“This common-sense legislation would overturn the White House’s inexplicable decision and allow this critical, job-creating project to move forward,” Hatch said in a press release, completely ignoring the fact that the renewable energy sector has shown some of the highest potential for job creation.

The bill would authorize TransCanada to construct and operate the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to the U.S. Gulf Coast, transporting an additional 830,000 barrels of oil per day to U.S. refineries.

The measure has practically no hope of passing the Senate and should be seen for what it is: Pandering to Big Oil and to Republican voters.

Any doubts about that should be dispelled by some numbers compiled by 350.org and Public Campaign Action Fund, showing that those 44 senators combinedreceived $23.4 million in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry since 1989.

After rallying public opposition to the pipeline, environmental leaders were understandably not happy about the move in the U.S. Senate.

“We no longer can just accept business as usual on Capitol Hill – the idea that the fossil fuel lobby puts a quarter in the slot, turns the handle, and gets a shiny toy has to come to an end,” said Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org. “The nation’s top scientists, not to mention ten recent winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, have explained why this is a lousy idea. That should speak as loudly as campaign cash.”

The analysis of campaign donations for the cosponsors found that seven of them have taken more than one million dollars over their careers from the oil industry. The cosponsors collectively received more than $1.1 million over the first three quarters of 2011, the last data available in advance of tomorrow’s FEC deadline.

“The introduction of this Keystone bill is not about jobs for Americans, it’s about these Senators’ trying to protect their own jobs,” said David Donnelly, national campaigns director of Public Campaign Action Fund. “They’re looking out for themselves, paying back their Big Oil donors, and trying to cash in for more Big Oil money.”

Lifetime Contributions to 44 Senators from Oil and Gas Industry

Name Career Oil & Gas $$
McCain, John (R-AZ)


Hutchison, Kay Bailey (R-TX)


Cornyn, John (R-TX)


Inhofe, James M (R-OK)


Isakson, Johnny (R-GA)


McConnell, Mitch (R-KY)


Vitter, David (R-LA)


Blunt, Roy (R-MO)


Thune, John (R-SD)


Coburn, Tom (R-OK)


Burr, Richard (R-NC)


Murkowski, Lisa (R-AK)


Wicker, Roger (R-MS)


Corker, Bob (R-TN)


Roberts, Pat (R-KS)


Alexander, Lamar (R-TN)


Moran, Jerry (R-KS)


Chambliss, Saxby (R-GA)


Barrasso, John A (R-WY)


Hatch, Orrin G (R-UT)


Toomey, Pat (R-PA)


Shelby, Richard (R-AL)


Coats, Daniel R (R-IN)


Kyl, Jon (R-AZ)


Portman, Rob (R-OH)


Crapo, Mike (R-ID)


Enzi, Mike (R-WY)


Sessions, Jeff (R-AL)


Grassley, Chuck (R-IA)


Hoeven, John (R-ND)


DeMint, James W (R-SC)


Rubio, Marco (R-FL)


Cochran, Thad (R-MS)


Lugar, Richard G (R-IN)


Heller, Dean (R-NV)


Graham, Lindsey (R-SC)


Manchin, Joe (D-WV)


Boozman, John (R-AR)


Ayotte, Kelly (R-NH)


Johnson, Ron (R-WI)


Paul, Rand (R-KY.)


Risch, James E (R-ID)


Johanns, Mike (R-NE)


Lee, Mike (R-UT)





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3 Responses

  1. The header says it all. Indeed, the Senate is for sale. Every type of special interest is trying to get its piece of the pie in this feeding frenzy, kind of reminds one of those Piranha fish, only the victim isn’t some hapless animal, but the country, the environment, the people. For those who might be interested, there is an article out on the blogs about how the software used in the “pigs” those things that they send through the pipelines to check for anomalies, has been rigged to disregard any that come up. Also, the pipe wall thickness isn’t the normal thickness, but thinner, which will corrode faster than normal pipe would. This is about the most blatantly ugly endeavor that humans have devised, like fracting is.

  2. Bunch of C.

    Looks like they are in the pocket of the Oil/Gas companies. Probably a long list of Democrats could be made too. Funny how the ‘lifetime’ contributions are listed.

    Build the pipe. We need the jobs!!!

  3. Senator Orrin Hatch also made millions over SOPA/PIPA. He’s all about picking winners and losers in the marketplace. Government needs to get out of it- and let Capitalism work it’s magic

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