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Landrieu says Republicans botched the deal.
Republican senators had a chance this past week to prove they have at least some sense when it comes to the nation's energy future. They could have shown they really do believe in a kind of bipartisanship that isn't branded my-way-or-the-highway. And they could even have made their point once again about the wisdom of building the Keystone XL pipeline together with nearly a dozen like-minded Democrats. But they blew it on all counts out of intransigence and myopia.

There were two proposals at issue. One was the Shaheen-Portman bill, a modest but worthwhile bit of energy efficiency legislation that should have garnered the votes of three-quarters or more of the Senate but had been held up since last year because of Republican Sen. David Vitter's demand that it be tied to a vote on Obamacare. The other was Landrieu-Hoeven, a bill to transfer authority for deciding the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline from the president to Congress in hopes of approving the project that is still undergoing a mandated review by the State Department.  

Republicans originally wanted to tie these two together, seemingly with the astonishing view that Democrats would not want to block an energy efficiency bill and President Obama would not want to veto one even if it had the Keystone XL amendment attached. They perhaps actually thought this despite the fact that the president already has proved he will not support legislation that tries to hamstring his authority to decide whether the cross-boundary pipeline will be built or not, authority that has rested with the presidency for the past 46 years.

Or maybe they just liked the election-year optics of being able to say in the wake of a  veto that a dictatorial Democratic president had gone against the wishes of the majority of Americans, including 11 senators of his own party. Either way, they misjudged.

Please read more analysis of this story below the fold.

Majority Leader Harry Reid said no to making the Keystone XL proposal an amendment to Shaheen-Portman. Instead, in return for a vote on the efficiency bill, he agreed to letting there be a separate vote on the Keystone bill. A stand-alone vote on Keystone was what Sen. Mary Landrieu, co-sponsor of that proposal, also wanted.

For Republicans that wasn't good enough. They also wanted to add five other amendments to Shaheen-Portman, including the banning of a carbon tax, speeding up natural gas exports and blocking pollution regulations. Reid said the Republicans, with their demands for amendments, were screwing around with Shaheen-Portman, which would spur energy efficiency for residences, businesses and federal buildings. The bill, he said, had already been amended multiple times to give it a better chance in the Senate:

“Hey listen […] you know I am at a total loss of what they are trying to do. I can remember going to New York as a young man and they had that shell game. Boy, they were good, they could cheat you every time. That’s what happening on this bill,” Reid said.

Asked whether he would agree to votes on a finite number of GOP amendments to the bill, Reid responded: “What amendments? They keep changing. This bill’s been around for a year. What do you mean finite?” [...]

“It’s a good bill; they should just pass it. But they’re not happy with that. They just can’t let well enough alone. They just have to keep screwing around with it. It’s really hard for me to comprehend,” Reid said of Republicans.

Landrieu puts the blame for the collapse directly on Minority Leader Mitch McConnell:
“If Mitch McConnell wants to have a vote on Keystone straight up or down, where he may get 60 votes, he most certainly has the power in his caucus to make that happen,” she said Wednesday as the negotiations for energy legislation ground to a halt. “They’re going to probably blow the opportunity to get a vote on Keystone because they just can’t help themselves.”
Naturally, the Republicans blame Landrieu, who is up for election in November. If she had really wanted a vote on Keystone XL, they said, she could have used her new post as chairwoman of the Senate Energy Committee to reduce the required vote to 50 from 60. And they say she'll suffer in November for it. But Democratic Sen. Bennett Johnston,  the last Louisianan to chair the Senate energy panel, told Darren Goode and Burgess Everett at Politico that he doubts this matter will harm Landrieu because Louisianans aren't paying attention to such details. Moreover, Landrieu has a record favoring the oil and gas industry in Louisiana—a stance that mightily irks liberals in the Democratic Party, but plays well on her home turf.

The failure means serious discussion of energy in the Senate is off the table until at least 2015. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, one of the closest GOP senators to being a moderate by today's standards, isn't happy:

"We have things that need to be resolved and advanced in the energy sector," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, ranking member on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. "If we can't get an energy-efficiency bill through the floor, what does that say about our ability as a Senate to act?"

Murkowski said she doubts that even some smaller measures from her committee could move given the "stunning" political backlash on the energy bill, which was aimed at increasing energy efficiency in commercial and residential properties and federally owned buildings. Among her priorities is a bipartisan nuclear-waste disposal bill she introduced with California Democrat Dianne Feinstein and policy proposals related to the nexus between energy and water, which she outlined in a white paper this week.

All this at a time, waaaaaay past time, when the nation needs a comprehensive energy bill, one that addresses climate chaos, that provides good jobs, that spurs the building of a clean-energy future instead of remaining mired in a dirty-energy past that is, literally, killing us.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Fri May 09, 2014 at 12:04 PM PDT.

Also republished by Louisiana Kossacks and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  A really good energy bill (8+ / 0-)

    would be great, no question.

    Have you heard any word, MB, about the Chinese tariff battle over modules? Really crimping my business right now....

    “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.” Thomas Edison, 1931

    by nzanne on Fri May 09, 2014 at 12:14:08 PM PDT

  •  I touched upon this yesterday. I'm not with (16+ / 0-)

    Landrieu on the Keystone XL Pipeline but she's playing a good political strategy against the GOP on this issue:

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    Funny Stuff at http://www.funnyordie.com/oresmas

    by poopdogcomedy on Fri May 09, 2014 at 12:19:59 PM PDT

    •  Holding my nose... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      poopdogcomedy

      I gave her some $ early and was planning more.  Her XL position bothers me, maybe more than it bothers you.  As your linked diary points out, there's still lots there to respect and support.  Still, my next contrib is not going easily.

  •  thousands dying each year, so what's another delay (17+ / 0-)

    Stats from NOAA for U.S. and might be limited to direct air pollution deaths related to lungs or heart. But air pollution also gets the contaminants in our water and food chain.

    Poor air quality is responsible in the U.S. for an estimated 50,000 premature deaths each year; costs from air pollution-related illness are estimated at $150 billion per year.
  •  Great Post MB. Thanks for clarifying this issue (17+ / 0-)

    of Senator Read agreeing to trade a vote on the Keystone pipeline for a vote on the energy bill.

    When I reported this story yesterday in Bipartisan energy efficiency bill stalls due to G.O.P. holding out for Keystone vote and amendments

    I mentioned that and a few readers asked if this could really be true?

    Because with Senator Landrieu's support for Keystone and about five others it would appear that the Republicans could have passed the Keystone bill forcing President Obama to veto it.

    While your write up explains this aspect with much greater clarity than mine, my write-up highlights that the Shaheen-Portman bill has broad bi-partisan support, so Republican behavior here makes no more sense, than this reported offer by Senator Reid to have offered Landrieu the Keystone vote in return for a vote on Shaheen-Portman.

    The only way I can interpret this that might make sense is that this story was crafted "post-hoc" by Reid and Landrieu so she could report back to her very strong, and financially important oil industry backers that she totally went to the mat for them on the Keystone pipeline, without actually having to join a group to break the 60 vote cloture threshold putting Obama into a position to have to veto it.

    For a moment, yesterday, and even now, a little, I worry that there is such vast wealth behind this Keystone oil pipeline that lobbyist are going to find a way to exert their will.

    This would have been it.

    If they could have, or still can get it passed in the Senate, could there be a scenario, where down the road at the last minute, President Obama, with great dramatic reluctance yields to massive union protest for jobs and says that although he opposes it personally for environmental reasons, he will yield to the will of the people as expressed by congress?

    I've worked with oil companies on strategy issues including pipeline issues. The financial analysis for these things is done on 50 year plus time horizons and the number of field assets this pipeline puts into play is so vast it is almost hard to imagine.

    I worked with one oil company on drilling strategies in Alaska and North Canada and the value of potential reserves includes calculations of how economic it would be to get them to a market. If they are stranded way off in remote regions with not road, ports, pipelines or ways, to get them to markets at a profit, taking into account all the extraction and transportation costs.

    Drilling and exploration costs have to be amortized over the lifetime of the reserves.

    It turns out that about 12 to 14 years ago some of the strategy matrices I was facilitating the executives of this one oil company to think through included scenarios of whether or not a series of pipelines across Canada all the way down to the mid U.S. would be built over the next 20 years.

    It only occurred to me recently this was probably Keystone, or some related segments to it.

    There were big differences of opinion in this group about whether they should be investing large sums in exploration in these northern regions before access to markets was guaranteed, so we were looking at creative risk minimization brainstorming.

    One idea related to competitor Exxon's large use of a pipeline this company could get access to if this other pipeline was approved in the long-term (10 - 20 years down he road because then they would prefer to use that one for certain reserves, possible freeing access for this company meaning a large area of marginal reserves could suddenly come into play becoming potentially profitable.

    One skeptic was saying "yes, but we can't lay down this many millions of exploration dollars on the gamble that this pipeline will be approved 10 years from now."

    The other old time exec laughed and scoffed saying " Exxon has X,xxx hundreds of billions of dollars (it may even have been trillions, I can't remember)  riding on that pipelines, you can bet you sweet &^&$ they are going to get it approved!"  (Sorry, some oil industry execs still used profanity in those wild and wooly days.)

    So, I'm not sure we can assume this Keystone deal is dead yet folks. We may need to watch out for the "Night of the Living Zombie Pipeline."

    "Seriously, Folks, WTH?" - ("What the Heck? "h/t Joan McCarter, Seriously, Florida. WTF?)

    by HoundDog on Fri May 09, 2014 at 12:47:33 PM PDT

  •  Energy efficiency --- (5+ / 0-)

    the least glamorous (but one of the most effective) ways to mitigate climate change, even according to the IPCC. And it saves money! Amazing how anyone can be on the wrong side of that.

    Thanks for the play-by-play of this most recent failure of responsible legislation. I don't think I would have followed this closely otherwise.

    Also :-) see here for our more upbeat take on energy efficiency and the benefits:

    -Joylette

    Don't Just Sit There - Do Something! --- a humorous take on climate news, climate science, with easy things everyone can do to make a difference.

    by Dont Just Sit There DO SOMETHING on Fri May 09, 2014 at 01:03:51 PM PDT

  •  Of course KXL isn't dead. Like a greased pig (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, Meteor Blades, daeros

    the death of this sucker will slip away from our grasp again and again.  Our job is to keep it from reaching it's destination at all costs!  That's why, for me, the outcome here is a mixed bag.  I'm still not convinced that it isn't overall a positive one.  

    If we really want to straighten out all this crap we really need to think about shit - Holy Shit.

    by John Crapper on Fri May 09, 2014 at 01:09:09 PM PDT

  •  Holding a bipartisan energy efficient Bill Hostage (13+ / 0-)

    A bill that would produce 190 thousand jobs and save 16.2 billion a year:

    HuffPo May 7, 2014

    ..the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has estimated it will spur the creation of 190,000 jobs, save the country $16.2 billion a year on energy bills by 2030, and reduce planet-warming greenhouse gases.
    ..with this truth about the result of GOP hostage taking. We remain..
    ..mired in a dirty-energy past that is, literally, killing us.
    Waste fraud & abuse rather than jobs, fiscal responsibility, and a clean living environment - pound that message home - imo

    Thx MB

  •  Poor Landrieu, now she'll have to work harder (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    judyms9, AmazingBlaise, orlbucfan

    for her Big Oil bribes.

    Hillary does not have the benefit of a glib tongue.

    by The Dead Man on Fri May 09, 2014 at 03:47:42 PM PDT

  •  The republicans unserious? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    judyms9, daeros

    Well, I never!

    "You cannot win improv." Stephen Colbert (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6tiaooiIo0 at 16:24).

    by Publius2008 on Fri May 09, 2014 at 04:01:35 PM PDT

    •  And this is the reason the rest of the world (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bear83

      wrings its hands about the US being a world leader.  It has little to do with Obama's foreign policy.

      Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

      by judyms9 on Fri May 09, 2014 at 04:14:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ok.. I don't get it. (0+ / 0-)

    Why would the GOP ever agree to splitting the Keystone XL off into a separate bill?

    That's idiotic from a bargaining point of view.

    The Dems want an energy bill, the GOP wants K-XL.  Each side gives and gets.  What am I missing?

    I realize your stand on K-XL, MB.  And fully understand where you are coming from on the analysis.  But, the GOP has public sentiment overwhelmingly (3 to 1!) on their side on K-XL.  Why would they not want to deal on that point on an energy bill?

    And why aren't the Dems willing to deal?  Who is it that is being intransigent here?

    It's called politics for a reason.  And, since I believe K-XL will eventually be a done deal, the Dems should get something out of it - especially since this may be an issue that bites them in the ass come November.

    •  The 3 to 1 sentiment that you cite pretty much (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      daeros

      reflects the opinions of those who don't live in the KXL pathway and would thus not be directly affected by a pipeline breach like the one we had here in MI in 2010 near the Kalamazoo River.   It was considered a minor breach, but here in 2014 the cleanup is ongoing.  The Canadian oil company, Enbridge, had been previously cited for violations related to pipeline juncture maintenance but ignored the citations, perhaps based on the generally held opinion that the private sector is superior in every way and the regulators are just annoying gnats to be flicked away.

      Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

      by judyms9 on Fri May 09, 2014 at 04:20:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And a rail-car disaster like the one (0+ / 0-)

        in Lac-Mégantic is any better?

        No legislation is needed to let Canadian oil of any type to be shipped by rail.  The number of rail disasters in the last year dwarf the pipeline ones.

        There are tens of thousands of miles of oil and gas pipelines in the states where you think opinions are overwhelmingly against.  So, I really doubt that all of the people in those states are against K-XL.

        So, the "fear of environmental disaster" argument is moot, if not plain silly.  Canadian tar sands will flow through the U.S. no matter what.

  •  If you add unseriousness to their fake outrage, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades

    I must say I fail to discern their orientation.

    "The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass."--Wendell Berry

    by Wildthumb on Fri May 09, 2014 at 04:12:30 PM PDT

  •  Living in (0+ / 0-)

    north central Pennsylvania, shale gas has been a godsend for the area.  The movies ect don't show the true feelings of us in Tioga and the surrounding counties. Very, VERY, few people are anti drilling/fracking/pipelines.  

  •  Damn, MB, you so rock, thanks for continuing to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades

    stay on top of this and keeping us up to speed on how events are unfolding.  One-stop-shopping KXL info, right here, folks.  Well done, Sir, thanks again!

    Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

    by lehman scott on Fri May 09, 2014 at 05:35:44 PM PDT

  •  The only things that Republicans are interested in (0+ / 0-)

    in is grabbing as much power possible, lining their pockets to the max and turning this country into a theocracy. If any of them have actually read the Constitution, much less a real history book, it s obvious that it was over their heads.  

  •  Keystone XL will eventually be approved... (0+ / 0-)

    and fraking will be expanded to extract every drop of natural gas and oil that's in the ground...groundwater pollution, rises in carbon dioxide and sea levels and all of the other "nasties" notwithstanding, since we have no infrastructure to deliver carbon-free energy to people on a large scale...the only way to be able to get off fossil fuel dependency...and we won't have an infrastructure for God knows how many decades.

    Scientists have been warning us about the consequences of environmental damage from CO2 since the 70s, but in 1980, this country took a wrong turn because big petro had lots of campaign funds to buy politicians and the politicians that they bought told voters how "exceptional" we were and didn't need to turn down our thermostats and put on a sweater.

    For over 40 years, environmental scientists have been coming out with report after report...warning after warning...each more strident than the previous one...and all ignored by money and power hungry neocon politicians in the pockets of the greedy rich.

    What worries me is what scientists AREN'T telling us.  There's this thing called "positive feedback" that will happen irregardless of whether we stop using all petroleum products tomorrow.  What will that be like when we finally get around to start working on an alternative energy infrastructure decades from now?  I'll be long dead by that time, leaving no progeny to suffer through the misery our generation will cause them, so why should I worry...but it's so dam sad!

  •  offer (0+ / 0-)

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