Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Feinstein's Untenable Opposition to Keystone

This week, the Republican US Senate is working with the dwindling number of US Senate Democrats to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Why is the 54 seat Republican caucus reaching out to Democrats? Are they playing nice in order to appease Establishment interests? Are they unwilling cowards unable to command majority rule with long-term goals of policy advancement? In fact, precisely because Republicans are engaged in governing, rather than obstructing, with accomplishing policy rather than passing piecemeal legislation, Republicans are expanding bipartisan support for the Keystone pipeline, now waiting six years because of President Obama's ideological opposition to energy expansion, along with the local drama of a Nebraska federal court.

US Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

First of all, I am glad that Tea Party supporters (including myself) are not calling Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his caucus sellouts or failures because they are working with Democrats. Why should anyone shame them? They are moving ahead, as promised, on a popular project lauded by conservatives across the country. Every Republican in the House, and 28 Democrats, supported the measure. The US Senate whip count now leads at 63. With four more votes, the US Senate will have a veto-proof majority.

I had targeted three US Democratic Senators following the failed vote in December 2014, where Landrieu's desperate bid to save her seat floundered by one vote below the 3/5 supermajority.

Chris Coons of Delaware offered that the bill violates the separation of powers. The Congress, in Coons' opinion, does not have the authority to approve a project, when that power (supposedly) belongs to the President. Where has the Delaware junior senator been all these years? President Obama has rewritten his own laws and ignored the federal mandates of previous Congresses. Now he defends the President's sole authority to approve a construction project? On Fox News Sunday, Coons further elaborated that oil prices have gone down, and the pipeline will not create the cited number of jobs advocated by the pipeline's supports. Coons' arguments are partisan stonewalling at their lowest. His Senate Democratic colleague, Tom Carper, already voted for the project.

Bill Nelson of Florida has remained committed to saying 'No!" to the Keystone Pipeline, even though his state has a redder delegation than before. Arguing from climate change alarmism as well as environmental interests, Nelson has chosen to defy the growing approval from the American people for this project.

Finally, I contacted one of my US Senators, Dianne Feinstein of California. Senator Boxer chaired the Environmental Committee with an aggressive bent toward stopping all projects, and even played the race card against the Chairman of the Black Chamber of Commerce on year. I had hoped that Feinstein would be somewhat more reasonable.

The staffer informed me that the senior Senator voted against Keystone for the following reasons:

1. The oil produced and delivered from the Canada Tar Sands would flow into the global market, as opposed to American consumers, and thus would produce no national benefit.

2. The environmental concerns did not justify building the pipeline, including the potential damage to a Midwestern aquifer, on which a large body of Middle Americans rely on for water.

3. A large number of constituents called her office, and told her to reject the pipeline. ""90% of those called to tell the senator to vote against the pipeline", the staffer told me.

I was surprised by such a large number. I did not believe it at first.

The staffer directed me to a November 18, 2014 press  release on her website:

I’ve had 120,000 California constituents write and call, of which about 93 percent are strongly opposed. And, I’d say to the chairman of the committee, one of the things that interested me from reading these constituent letters was really how informed individuals were about this pipeline.

Over one hundred thousand people called into her office? In 2013, hundreds of thousands of people called from all over the country telling US Senators to oppose the Tooomey-Manchin background check bill. Apparently, it is possible for American voters to #MakeDCListen.

But they will not listen if voters do not call. I wonder how many conservatives, how may Republicans and freedom-minded independents in California have given up on the idea of calling their US Senators and demanding that they change their opposition to Keystone? If a politician's number one goal is to get reelected, then voters should start signaling some kind of support by pushing their representatives on issues that they care about.

I refused to believe that no one can find more than 120,000 people in the state of California who would support Keystone. No matter how green conscious selected Democratic strongholds may be, there are plenty of low and middle-income Californians who benefit from lower gas prices. Imagine also the lower electric bills and other diminished energy costs which would follow from passing Keystone.

Besides, Feinstein's proffered economic argument is fallacious. Increased oil output and supply for the global market will ensure more domestic crude for consumption at home. Lower fuel prices will follow, and benefit not just individual drivers, but businesses, corporations, and investment firms intent on creating wealth, expanding business, increasing profits, and hiring more people.

Increased energy availability is win domestically, financially, and eventually in terms of national security. Petro-garchy states like Nigeria, Russia, and the Middle Eastern countries (some of which sponsor terror and military aggression) draw much of their wealth from oil production and distribution. Removing the oil profits from the OPEC countries (and rogue states in South America) will reinvigorate American preeminence. One OPEC spokesman predicted that the world will never see $100 a barrel oil again.

Even normally Democratic allies like the labor unions and the mainstream media support Keystone. The facts, the politics, and the advocacy all urge construction of this project. Potential legal hurdles have been removed, as well, including the recent decision from the Nebraska federal district court throwing out the lawsuit blocking Keystone.

US Senator Dianne Feinstein's argument against Keystone are untenable. It's time for California residents to let her know that the diverse opinion from more than 100,000 callers supports this project. 

And so should she.

Washington, DC Office:

331 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: (202) 224-3841
Fax: (202) 228-3954
TTY/TDD: (202) 224-2501

San Francisco Office:

One Post Street
Suite 2450
San Francisco, CA 94104
Phone: (415) 393-0707
Fax: (415) 393-0710

Los Angeles Office:

11111 Santa Monica Blvd.
Suite 915
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Phone: (310) 914-7300
Fax: (310) 914-7318

San Diego Office:

880 Front Street
Suite 3296
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 231-9712
Fax: (619) 231-1108

Fresno Office:

2500 Tulare Street
Suite 4290
Fresno, CA 93721
Main: (559) 485-7430
Fax: (559) 485-9689

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