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May 15, 2014

Harry Reid's Tombstone for Keystone

The Senate has killed any chance the pipeline had in Congress to overcome administration delays.

With primary election season in full swing across the country and November midterms on the horizon, it’s no surprise that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has essentially killed chances that the Senate will approve the Keystone XL pipeline this year.

The Senate was set to vote on approving Keystone as part of an energy efficiency bill, but because Reid was unwilling to allow votes on amendments that could prove problematic for Democrats – or, peril of all perils, that would expose divisions between Senate Democrats and the White House – Reid shut down the amendment process. As a result, he failed to get the 60 votes needed to move the energy efficiency bill and, ergo, to move the pipeline approval. Reid and his Democrat colleagues account for 53 members of the Senate. Factor in the two Independents who caucus with Democrats and the handful of Republicans who might as well be Democrats, and any attempt by Reid to blame Republicans for the chamber’s ineptitude becomes fairly comical, were the issue not so serious.

Yet blame-shifting Reid did, bemoaning, “This useless, mind-boggling obstruction is what continually grinds the wheels of the Senate to a halt.” Of course, he talks about the wheels while holding the axle. Closer to reality is The Wall Street Journal’s observation that “Harry Reid’s Senate has become a deliberate obstacle to democratic accountability.”

Unfortunately, Reid’s political shenanigans mean Keystone approval is highly unlikely this year, leaving the project to continue to languish after what’s now been more than five years of stalling by the Obama administration. His politics are sadly – and detrimentally – impacting the entire nation.

Despite the wind- and solar-powered utopia that radical environmentalists are trying to regulate and tax-credit into existence, we still use crude oil in great quantities. And right now, much of that oil is transported across our country via rail. Yet, research has shown that rail transport of oil is far more dangerous than pipeline transport – both for the environment and for humans.

According to the State Department, Keystone, which would transport 830,000 barrels of oil per day, would likely seep, leak or spill just 518 barrels per year. Comparatively, rail cars transporting a similar amount of oil would spill more than 1,300 barrels annually through derailments such as occurred April 30 in Lynchburg, Virginia that spilled or burned approximately 30,000 gallons of crude oil.

And while the State Department report projected one additional injury per year and no fatalities with the pipeline, rail transport was projected to produce 49 additional injuries and six additional fatalities per year. Even the federal Department of Transportation recently called some rail transport of oil an “imminent hazard.”

Yet despite the proven safety benefits of pipeline transport, despite the thousands of jobs created building the pipeline, despite the State Department’s twice concluding that the Keystone pipeline would not have a significant adverse effect on emissions, and despite Barack Obama’s promise in February that he would make a decision on Keystone “in a couple of months,” the Keystone permit application won’t see the light of day while environmental lobbyists blow in the wind about the pipeline’s comatose state and prepare to picket the next oil train derailment.

As for Reid, he’s probably telling his Democrat colleagues they can cross Keystone off their list of 2014 election woes. After all, isn’t that what’s most important?

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