The Common Good

Keystone XL Update: The Buck No Longer Stops Here

President Obama said he’d make a decision on the Keystone pipeline after the election.

The decision to not decide until later was a victory for environmental activists, as the pipeline would be a serious threat to the ecosystems it passes through should it spring a leak (TransCanada has already had 12 oil spills in 2011 alone. That’s 12 too many, by the way.)

Some members of Congress are now saying, “Mr. President, we’ll take it from here."

Senate Republicans introduced a bill that would require the Secretary of State to issue a U.S. permit for TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline if President Barack Obama doesn’t make a decision within 60 days of the bill’s enactment.  

The bill (S. 1932, also the House’s version H.R. 3537) does account for states’ rights (Nebraska’s) as well as a to-be-determined alternate route (which will be submitted by Gov. of Nebraska), but it doesn’t account for the fact that “producing oil from tar sands generates 17 percent more of the carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions that are warming our planet than conventional oil in this country,” according to the Huffington Post.

It accounts for the fact that the United States imports more than half the oil it consumes (don’t Republicans already say that about government spending?) but it doesn’t tackle our need for renewable, sustainable energy sources.

They say the construction of the Keystone pipeline will initiate a trickle-down flow of money through jobs, but they don’t say what will happen if oil happens to trickle out of the pipeline.

With this bill, Congress also ignores the voice of the people. Thousands of concerned citizens surrounded the White House in November to tell Obama to say “No” to the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Taking “the buck” away from Obama to please the oil companies is incredibly disrespectful — not only to our president, but to the voice of the people, formerly known as democracy.

James Colten is a campaigns assistant at Sojourners.

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