You may recall that the Keystone XL Pipeline was a huge political issue during the recent Presidential Election Campaign with Republicans leading the way demanding the pipeline be built so that: 1. Jobs can be created and 2. America can become energy independent. Republicans framed the entire issue as both an economic and foreign policy imperative. For those that are not regular readers of my blog, welcome - but check the archives for blogs identifying GOP leaders using the above-referenced pipeline talking points. So what does the GOP-led House push this week? HR3, a Bill calling for the immediate construction of the final section of the Keystone XL Pipeline between the Canadian border and Steele City, Nebraska. Ironically, the final authority by law to determine whether the pipeline meets environmental and foreign policy concerns (Canadian tar sands) lies with the Executive Branch under the Constitution, but the GOP moved ahead without heeding the law and instead passed a Bill circumventing the President's authority by a vote of 241-175 (and Fox viewers think Obama is the "tyrant" skirting the Constitution at every turn). So why the need to move forward with such a measure? Because of the Economy and Energy Independence right? WRONG!
In an effort to force the House to require all petroleum produced from the Canadian Tar Sands crude be sold to Americans, the Democrats proposed an Amendment to HR3. In other words, if the pipeline is constructed, all oil related products refined from the tar sands must be dedicated for domestic consumption. I mean, isn't that one of the reasons Republicans claimed the pipeline was needed? It's about energy independence right? Apparently not! The GOP-led House voted down the Amendment that bans all exports of the refined crude! What gives then? Perhaps the pipeline was never intended to supply oil to Americans (what Obama was claiming all along). Perhaps Republicans spun talking points for political gain in the last election cycle? I'm shocked (not)! To make matters worse, Democrats then attempted to require all firms receiving refined petroleum from the tar sands pay into the Oil Spill Liability Fund (that existing oil producers pay into). Doesn't it make sense that the oil producers benefiting from the sale of the refined Keystone XL related tar sands oil pay into a fund that provides coverage for environmental damage in the event of a leak or spill? Of course it does. But the Republicans struck that Amendment down by a vote of 223-194. What gives then? Why shouldn't the firms involved pay into the Liability fund like they already do for all other existing pipelines? Can anyone answer this question? What impact will the pipeline have on the environment should a spill occur?
In an effort to avoid that very question, the GOP also passed an Amendment "green lighting" the project by affirmatively rejecting State Department environmental concerns. The Amendment usurping the Executive Branch's control passed the House along party lines, 246-168. Seems the Republicans in the House have called for the Bill to proclaim all environmental issues "minor" and the pipeline be built on an expedited basis. So the pipeline and the crude it carries will not be sold to Americans, will not make us further energy independent and the environment be damned. To add insult to injury, House Democrats proposed an additional Amendment requiring the petroleum producers achieve "carbon emission neutrality" so the environmental impact of the additional release of carbon emissions from the refining of the dirty tar sands is minimized. What does the GOP-led House do? Vote the measure down by a vote of 269-146! Are Americans paying attention to the fact these Republican positions don't even come close to their talking points promoted in the past election? Where is the outrage? Lost in the Media fixated on the "shiny objects" of Bengahzi, the IRS and the DOJ snooping! Is it possible the entire "scandal" parade was designed by the GOP just to begin to usurp presidential authority while the nation is told to "Move on, nothing to see here?"
So when it comes to protecting separation of powers, the environment and Congressional integrity (an oxymoron?), the Republicans cannot be found. Despite their repeated political talking points, it can be proven they have sold out to big business at our collective expense. As President Theodore Roosevelt once said; "It is difficult to make our material condition better by the best law, but it is easy to ruin it by bad laws!" Will Americans ever learn to distrust the Media and politicians when they tell us "Nothing to see, move along?"