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Pierce writes: "Instead of discussing (again) what a dreadful idea the pipeline is, let's mention the nine (!) Democratic senators who voted to submarine the White House in favor of this catastrophe waiting to happen."

Hundreds risk arrest at the White House protesting the Keystone XL pipeline. (photo: Al-Jazeera America)
Hundreds risk arrest at the White House protesting the Keystone XL pipeline. (photo: Al-Jazeera America)

Sellouts: The Senate & the Keystone XL Pipeline

By Charles Pierce, Esquire

30 January 15


ell, the Senate is now set to double-dog dare the president to veto a bill mandating the construction of our old friend the Keystone XL pipeline, the continent-spanning death funnel designed to bring the world's dirtiest fossil-fuel down from the environmental hellspout of northern Alberta, through this country's most valuable farmland, and down to the refineries on the coast, and thence to the world.

Instead of discussing (again) what a dreadful idea the pipeline is, let's mention the nine (!) Democratic senators who voted to submarine the White House in favor of this catastrophe waiting to happen.

Nine Democrats joined a unanimous Republican caucus to support the bill: Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado, Tom Carper of Delaware, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana and Mark Warner of Virginia.

OK, Heidi Heitkamp is about one head-scarf short of being an oil sheikh at this point, and Joe Manchin is hopeless on any issue involving the extraction industries because coal. But what the hell is up with Tom Carper? What's Delaware's dog in this fight? Shipping, I guess, and the same thing could be said for Bob Casey, Jr., who is following the family tradition of bailing on his party when it suits him. (The residents of Pennsylvania, with their land fracked half to death and their water capable of being used as lighter fluid, should be alerted to the fact that their junior senator voted with the industries that have done the damage.) Donnelly of Indiana voted for it so nobody would call him a tree-hugger on the radio, and I suspect Mark Warner wanted to burnish his "centrist" credentials as well. These are all very lame excuses, but Claire McCaskill has none. Of the nine poltroons, her state is closest to the proposed route of the death funnel, and it will be most affected by whatever happens when the pipeline breaks, because it will, because it is a pipeline and they break. That doesn't mean she hasn't tried to cobble one together.

"It's going to be either moved by train, or it's going to be moved by barge, or it's going to be moved by pipeline. The safest way for it to be moved is by pipeline. It also has the benefit of more jobs," said McCaskill when asked about her vote for a pipeline bill offered by Senate Democrats within weeks of losing their majority in last November's mid-term elections.

Let it be moved in all those ways, but let Canadian oil be moved through Canada, which is a harder sell, because they take their environmental regulations -- and their treaties with their indigenous peoples -- a lot more serious than we do. So we serve as North America's Louisiana, with our own Cancer Corridor. Which reminds me:

The vote is a big win for Louisiana lawmakers. Before December's Senate runoff in that state, the two candidates, incumbent Democratic senator Mary Landrieu and her challenger, GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy, both pushed bills to approve the pipeline. The House approved Cassidy's bill, but the Senate defeated Landrieu's and he went on to take her Senate seat in the election. your social media marketing partner


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+63 # fredboy 2015-01-30 15:46
If Warner doesn't understand clean water, he shouldn't be representing the Commonwealth of Virginia in the U.S. Senate.

+13 # ritawalpoleague 2015-01-30 18:46
Yes, fredboy, "Disgraceful." it is. So sickening it is, our having sooooo many bought off pol. puppet whores these days.

For some time now, here in Colorado, I've been passing on my logo for a Dem. governor, Hickenlooper:


And now, since his vote in the egregious and gonna be so damaging and health destroying Keystone Pipeline, I've got a similar logo for Dem. Sen. Michael Bennet:


Yep, a political war it now is - bi-partisan effort to impeach this POTUS, Obama, should he not veto, as he said he would, this Keystone Pipeline, and a Dem. vote out of any and all obviously bought off Dem. senators who are listed above, and who are very likely to vote to overcome a veto, should Pres. Obama keep his word and veto, as he's said he would, the deadly Keystone Pipeline.
-19 # Rain17 2015-01-31 01:12
And get further into the minority because a candidate who meets the purity standards of most RSN posters is likely to be unelectable in states like CO and VA. Gee, that's a great strategy.

I'm convinced that most RSN members would there be 30 ideologically pure Democrats in the Senate who could scream and be loud everyday, while never accomplishing anything, as opposed to having 53-55 Democrats who are imperfect.
+11 # jcdav 2015-01-31 08:07
Yes, accomplish nothing, very much the last congress's track record.\
+1 # politicfix 2015-02-01 10:31
+58 # Luckyenough 2015-01-30 15:57
As a Pennsylvania resident, I am at a loss as to how in the name of heaven Casey could have supported this filthy oil traveling anywhere through the US. I wonder if the route had been through PA if he would have been so ready to suck up to the moneyed interests. My fingers are ready on the keyboard to send a letter telling him he is not representing MY interests, and I am one of a minority of dems in my rural very red county!
+17 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2015-01-30 21:01
Our politicians are store keepers. A store has stocked goods. What does a politician's store stock consist of? Votes. A deep pocket lobbyist has a key to the front door of the store. The key, called a check book. The lobbyist knows that toward the end of aisle 13, middle shelf and to your right sits a bright, shining vote. It has a price which maybe, usually is clearly stated or negotiated. A contract has three essential elements: 1. Offer. 2. Acceptance. 3. Consideration, usually money for performance. A vote is sold. The consideration-a campaign contribution. No contract is valid if it is based on fraud. Politicians make their own laws. Being careful to craft their own rules, laws, there is no law against selling votes. Often, making fraud "legal" but not legitimate. The lobbyist and the politician have struck a deal. Money changes hands. Both parties are enriched in the deal because there was agreeable offer and acceptance. Was the public enriched? The public very often is not a party to the agreement between the lobbyist and the politician. This is a very good example of "trickle down economics." The public get trickled on. What is used as "trickle liquid" is not what you would want to use to wash your hair. So, is it "shocking" that some certain Democrats very often vote with the Republicans? Just because the public at large votes a politician into office does not mean that that politician once in office elects to represent you, the people. Capitalism @ its worst.
+11 # WestWinds 2015-01-30 22:24
To Eldon J. Bloedorn:

--- This is why we need to get some groups going to get rid of corporate campaign financing. We have talked about this until we are all blue in the face, but nothing substantive has been done about it, yet. There is no incentive for politicians to be anything but corrupt once inside the New Sin City (D.C.) and nothing changes if nothing changes and nothing will change until We the People DO something about this. We need a plan and then we need a ten million people march on D.C. to make our point that we aren't kidding; get the money out of D.C. or we will get you out of D.C..
+8 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2015-01-30 22:44
You have a great idea. Also, Being able to trace campaign contributions to how the politician voted. Require a politician to keep public records of who visits their office or any other place where a lobbyist and the politician have met to discuss their "mutual" business. That is, if a paid lobbyist represents a certain cause, industry, whether that lobbyist contributed a campaign contribution to that politician. Then, legally require a public record of that contribution accessible to anyone and also by means of regularly scheduled mass media to inform the public of the transaction.
+54 # Blackjack 2015-01-30 16:05
What they all understand perfectly well is their political futures, which they think is tied to sucking up to the oil/gas industries. What they don't give a fig about is the best interests of those of us who don't benefit from oil/gas extraction in our back yards--you know those of us who actually voted for them so they could vote against us. And is anyone else sick of the lame-brained excuse that it will bring "jobs?" That's the excuse that has been given forever by polluters of all stripes and what it has given us instead is ecological nightmares which we, the indentured servants, i.e., citizens, have had to pay for. . .sometimes after getting sick and even dying from whatever brand of poison they foisted upon us.
+7 # WestWinds 2015-01-30 22:41
To #Blackjack:

--- The problem is that people don't know their candidates. They know what the slick advertising tells them so they either vote the party line, vote for the cutest, or don't bother voting at all.

We need a system of getting rapid information to people so they can make informed decisions apart from the high powered corporate ad agencies.

RSN (Reader Supported News) is a pretty good source of information but they are always struggling for dollars. (Contributions gratefully accepted; no, I'm not an affiliate.) But only the liberals will check into RSN.

See part 2
+9 # BillW72 2015-01-30 16:14
Does nine Democrat senators mean that Obama's veto can be easily overridden?
+5 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2015-01-30 23:29
All depends on who gets paid off with a campaign "contribution."
+5 # Radscal 2015-01-31 18:26
It's be close enough to get nervous about, but the DNC knows how to play the numbers game. Overriding a veto requires a 2/3 majority (67). This vote was 62 to 36.

This allows the "Blue Dog" Democrats to vote "conservative" and yet still maintain the fiction that the Senate Democrats are "liberal."
+29 # Carol R 2015-01-30 16:16
"Donnelly of Indiana voted for it so nobody would call him a tree-hugger on the radio..."

BP Oil in NW Indiana (Whiting, IN) is already processing Tar Sands oil. Our air was 16th most polluted in the US, according to the American Lung Association. BP Oil puts 2 million tons of pet coke into our air every year.

Just who was Donnelly voting to help? Hoosiers or BP Oil?
-107 # skylinefirepest 2015-01-30 16:39
Pipeline is the safest method of transportation for almost any product. Do you drive a car? Wear clothes? Eat food every day? If so, people, then oil put it there for you. We cannot survive without oil. Get over yourselves.
+47 # Blackjack 2015-01-30 17:05
It's you who should get over yourself! You can make excuses all you want for the polluting excesses that make for part of the greed that has been a part of our country for far too many years. You can have some oil/gas for a time without being excessive and you can also look for greener alternatives and support them or you can be satisfied with excess and greed!
-36 # skylinefirepest 2015-01-30 20:40
You've made my point for me already Blackjack...eve rything we do, our very survival, depends on oil...whether you blithering idiots stop to realize it or not. And the pipeline is the safest method of delivering that oil. You made your comment on a machine that was made with OIL!!!
+9 # WestWinds 2015-01-30 22:47
Part 2

We need some kind of unbiased table where issues are listed on the net and the position of each candidate or seat holder is listed and how they voted on things; a handy, quick reference that anyone can tune into, skim down to their state and candidate and get a quick fix on them and their policies without all the spin and deception.

Places like Fox News are going to commit prosecutorial misconduct and either hide information or reconfigure information for their own nefarious purposes.

People just don't have the time (or inclination) to read oceans of literature over a long period of time to get a true sense of what's happening. We need a Quick Facts Check Table with checks against each line item that the overall will give a thumbnail of the true nature of these candidates. Then, if the winner doesn't fulfill the things promised there are consequences.

There are no consequences; this is another problem.
+7 # Blackjack 2015-01-31 09:21
"We need some kind of unbiased table where issues are listed on the net and the position of each candidate or seat holder is listed and how they voted on things; a handy, quick reference that anyone can tune into, skim down to their state and candidate and get a quick fix on them and their policies without all the spin and deception."

Westwinds, we have this now. It's called Vote Smart. The info is free and accurate and is updated before each election cycle. This handy reference can be accessed through, or if you request it, you can receive a hard copy of the "Voter's Self-Defense Manual 2014." I highly recommend it.
+12 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2015-01-30 23:20
To: skylinefirepest ..."everything we do, our very survival, depends on oil." What you said was promoted by the zealots one hundred years ago and maybe longer. Now, we are recycling millions upon millions of tons of plastics which are replacing a huge demand for oil. Face it. Sure we need grease and oil to lubricate, parts, machinery. The uses for grease, lubricants are incredibly small as compared for energy needs which polluting energy is fast being replaced by wind and solar energy. Eventually, high speed rail. High speed rail can be energized by solar and wind power. The amount of pollution a large "kerosene" burning aircraft produces is tremendous as an individual aircraft and as a group. High speed rail is so much more efficient. Why? An aircraft needs a tremendous amount of energy to: 1. Get it into the air and keep it there-overcome gravity. 2. Propel it forward. Obviously, a high speed train does not have to defy gravity, except when inclining. Beyond that, just needs propulsion. Even an incline requiring more energy can easily be supplied by solar and wind energy and not a dirty pollutant. How aircraft are also very dirty is another area not often thought about by the public. Aircraft at times need to air dump excessive fuel and sometimes lots of it prior to landing. Estimates in the 90s. 15 million pounds of dumped fuel over the oceans. Why? Aircraft need to land lighter than when they take off due to reducing the stress on the aircraft when they "hit" the runway.
+28 # REDPILLED 2015-01-30 17:34
People once thought that way about whale oil. See this: James Hansen slams Keystone XL Canada-U.S. Pipeline: "Exploitation of tar sands would make it implausible to stabilize climate
+10 # lfeuille 2015-01-30 22:24
Quoting skylinefirepest:
Pipeline is the safest method of transportation for almost any product. Do you drive a car? Wear clothes? Eat food every day? If so, people, then oil put it there for you. We cannot survive without oil. Get over yourselves.

Irrelevant - it should not be transported by any means.
-1 # skylinefirepest 2015-02-02 14:47
I'm impressed now...there's at least a hundred and three people who don't realize that their very existence depends on oil. There's some really dumb people out there, I guess...of course those same people elected an anti-American muslim ( his words, people, not mine. ) twice and now want to say the "evil rich" are the reason for our stagnated economy. You do realize don't you people, that what you earn has absolutely nothing to do with what I earn?? But the liberals have made hay with the idea of class warfare, as if it affects you in any way. Amazing what your propaganda can do to people who have no basic intelligence and depend on the government to feed, clothe, and house your sorry butts.
-80 # brycenuc 2015-01-30 17:08
Skylinefirepest is absolutely right. Besides, oil cannot produce the erroneously maligned carbon dioxide until it is refined and burned. It will produce the same amount of harmless carbon dioxide in the atmosphere where ever it is refined and burned. Once that oil is produced, it will be refined and burned.

Of all the stupid things to blame for global warming pipelines are at the top of the list.
+17 # randrjwr 2015-01-30 21:06
Quoting brycenuc:
...Besides, oil cannot produce the erroneously maligned carbon dioxide until it is refined and burned. It will produce the same amount of harmless carbon dioxide in the atmosphere ......

Of all the stupid things to blame for global warming pipelines are at the top of the list.

You think carbon dioxide is harmless?? The debate is not whether climate change is happening, but rather, what to do about it. Nobody claims that what is in the pipe is harmful while it is in the pipe, AS LONG AS IT STAYS IN THE PIPE!! But it doesn't always stay there, as when the pipe breaks. Then it is harmful to the environment, particularly the nearby water supplies (i.e., aquifers). You say that a pipeline is the safest mode of transport? Presumably this is because pipelines break less often than tank cars and tank trucks do, due to accidents or mechanical failures? Well, consider that when a tank car or truck breaks, the spill is limited to the oil in the tank (times the number of tanks that break if there are more than one, of course). BUT, the spill is limited to the oil in the tank(s). On the other hand, when a pipeline breaks, the amount of oil spilled depends on how long it takes for the spill to be discovered and the pipeline turned off. It seems that that can easily be much much more than the spill from tank(s). So, which is safer?
+38 # X Dane 2015-01-30 17:19
I wonder if you live close to a pipeline or processing plant?? if you did you would not be so flip, for it is the dirtiest most polluting oil on the planet. And it will ONLY bring destruction.... and disaster, when it breaks,

We are producing plenty of oil in our own country, we do not need Canada's filthy crap. YOU need to inform yourself before you try to lecture us. You probably do not understand that it is also the most expensive to refine.
+39 # Cassandra2012 2015-01-30 17:49
Skyline PEST
Keystone will only benefit the Koch Bros. and Trans-Canada Oil. It will produce only 35 permanent jobs and threaten the Oglala aquifer and the farmland of eight (8!!!) states.

Filthy dangerous tar sands oil is NO answer to our energy needs. Time to actually develop green solutions as IS BEING DONE IN PLACES LIKE ICELAND and Scotland. We are rapidly becoming a third world country as we succumb to the machinations of the Koch/ALEC oligarchs.
Wise up!
+46 # Barbara K 2015-01-30 17:46
Not only is this crap coming from Canada, but it is not for us. It is going to the Gulf to be shipped to China. We are taking all the risks and getting none of the benefits. A foreign company is taking over farmland by eminent domain that belongs to American citizens. This should not be allowed. No foreign entity should be able to take away an American's land. That is in the constitution. On top of all that, it is the Koch roaches who stand to gain $500Billion dollars on the deal. It is always, always, all about the money.

+26 # Laird999 2015-01-30 18:22
If this tar sands oil gets used it is GAME OVER - the climate will be ruined for humans - so for the Senator to say "this oil will be transported anyway" is idiotic. Anybody who says its ok to develop tar sands oil is essentially a traitor, a Benedict Arnold. Spills are bad, but spills are nothing compared to Game Over and Climate Ruin. The pipeline will speed up societal suicide. We used up our carbon budget, now we must make a stand and leave the vast majority of the carbon in the ground, or else we guarantee Climate Ruin.
+13 # tm7devils39 2015-01-30 21:35
I wonder how much those 9 senators were paid for their vote?...which means they really voted for oligarchy over democracy and since the voters elected them to look out for the public's best interests, it looks like morals and ethics are sorely lacking in this group. It's either that or not one of them can think critically...or both...since they are not mutually exclusive.
+12 # Rockster 2015-01-31 00:26
If I'm not mistaken, Sen Testor just sent me a sweet personal note humbly requesting a donation for the the Demo Party Senatorial campaign..... I am sending them something but it sure isn't any money. It is a simple ultimatum ; Change your position on favoring Big Oil, Big Banks, Big " whatever" or not only will we never give you all a dime but we will work to make sure that everyone knows what spineless sellouts you are. What if Progressives just all left the current Demos and joined the Greens?
+8 # Annette Saint John Lawrence 2015-01-31 00:45
The People may want to familiarize themselves with the Declaration of Independence. They are not taking advantage of what the people have the power to do.
….."We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the , --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."… You may want to Keep a record of your Representatives who are an enemy of the people and the common good. Get them out of office in their next election cycle. I let everyone
know who they are.
+9 # vilstef 2015-01-31 02:08
It's a lucky thing for politicians that they have no shame. This is truly a shameless bunch of petrol grubbing DINOs!
+7 # randrjwr 2015-01-31 11:24
An addendum to what I wrote previously:

I want to emphasize that a spill from a truck or a tank car occurs above ground and is immediately discoverable, leaving aside scenarios which are conceivable but usually reserved for movies, and thus remediation can begin relatively quickly. In contrast, some pipelines, such as the one that leaked in Montana and which passes under the Yellowstone River, are underground and a spill may not even be noticed, let alone be remediated, quickly. I think that, if we must transport this particularly filthy and hazardous oil, we should do it in a way that is immediately and continuously observable, i.e., by truck or train. As a side benefit, that does involve significant numbers of jobs which can be long term.

Whether or not we really MUST transport this oil across the U.S. is another matter.
+4 # Radscal 2015-01-31 18:31
I don't see any comment noting Senator McAskill's appearance as "The Interview" on Rachel Maddow.

Rachel introduced McAskill as the best choice (other than Hillary) as the Democratic Presidential Candidate, and then brought it up during an obviously fawning "The Interview."

Then, once the good Senator was safely off camera, Rachel did a segment on the XL vote, and observed that McAskill had voted for it without a single critical word about the Senator's vote, let alone her own failure to ask her about it while she had the Senator on camera.

Yeah. "Liberal" media.
+2 # Edwina 2015-02-01 11:20
Note the nine Senators come from states economically dependent on fossil fuels. They are also states that have suffered catastrophic spills, explosions, or other environmental degradation. Congress is not the answer to addressing climate change. We need a new system, where human health & wellbeing trump the right to make a profit.

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