Senate to Vote on Keystone Pipeline Tonight

By Liz Schmitt 11-18-2014
Rena Schild / Shutterstock.com
Marchers in the Forward on Climate Rally, Feb. 17, 2013, in Washington D.C. Rena Schild / Shutterstock.com

Tonight at 6:00, the Senate is holding a vote on the Keystone XL pipeline. I’ve been so excited lately by all the good thing happening in Congress, but this just might spoil my mood.

Here’s what has happened lately: President Obama met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and the two of them agreed on a climate pollution-curbing deal. It’s a move that many people never thought possible, and it means big things for international climate talks. Also big news in that arena is Obama’s recent commitment of $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund, making us one of very few prosperous nations willing to help the world’s poor and vulnerable countries grapple with the climate impacts they are already facing – stronger storms, droughts that ravage subsistence farmers, rising sea levels that displace island nations. When the U.S. delegates show up at the U.N. climate talks in Lima two weeks from now, people might actually be happy to see us!

This week is an exciting one on the national level too. This afternoon at the EPA, a group of faith representatives will hand over our thousands of comments from people of faith who support the Clean Power Plan (and want to see the rule implemented well in every state).

But just when things were looking up, enter Congress. Here’s the basic scene:

Last week the House of Representatives held their ninth vote on the Keystone pipeline, and approved it yet again. The Senate is voting on a simple yes or no pipeline bill at 6 p.m. The vote count right now in the Senate is 59 in favor –enough to pass, but not enough to be filibuster-proof if a member of the Senate decides to pull a “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” If it does pass, it goes to President Obama’s desk.

Now, plenty of people are predicting that Obama would veto the bill. He’s been mum on Keystone XL so far, saying that the State Department needs more time to conduct a thorough review. But just last week, he called the Keystone XL pipeline exactly what it is: “a pipeline shipping Canadian oil to world markets, not to the United States.” His reality check gives me some confidence, but not enough to relax.

That’s why last night I met with local activists who are staging sit-ins in the Senate, asking senators to vote against the dirty pipeline. I connected with some of the Rosebud Sioux (Dakota/Lakota nation) activists who are here to speak out against a pipeline that nobody asked permission to put on their sovereign land. Farmers from Nebraska are here to stand up for the land they love. And of course, people like you and I have a stake in this because we need clean air, clean water, and we need to slow climate change. I join in prayer with Evangelicals Pray No KXL because we need God to do big things here.

I hope you’ll pray with me that we get a definitive “No” on this dirty tar sands pipe. I also hope you’ll join our climate activist email list, so that I can send you an email as soon as the Senate vote takes place. That way you can add your voice to our letter to President Obama, telling him that we as people of faith want to protect the creation, not spoil it.

Click here to join our climate action list and you’ll get an email from me this evening telling you a simple way to take action.

Liz Schmitt is Creation Care Campaign Associate for Sojourners.

Image: Marchers in the Forward on Climate Rally, Feb. 17, 2013, in Washington D.C. Rena Schild / Shutterstock.com

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