Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is weighing in on Keystone XL, the controversial 1,700 mile pipeline that would bring carbon-intensive crude across the U.S. from Alberta’s tar sands to refineries in the Gulf Coast.
In a letter sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier this month, Reid expressed concerns about the environmental impact of the project. The Washington Post reported on the October 5th correspondence:
“The proponents of this pipeline would be wiser to invest instead in job-creating clean energy projects, like renewable power, energy efficiency or advanced vehicles and fuels that would employ thousands of people in the United States rather than increasing our dependency on unsustainable supplies of dirty and polluting oil that could easily be exported,” Reid wrote.
Reid has been a strong supporter of clean energy and has maintained that support during a time of severe Congressional backlash against government incentives for the sector. But this is the first time he has publicly given his opinions on the Keystone XL Pipeline — a project that has united environmental activists and split the Democratic party.
Some Congressional Democrats have remained silent on the issue, waiting for the State Department to make a decision. Others have thrown their support behind the pipeline, which they say will create jobs and boost tax revenues.
Meanwhile, the environmental community is putting heavy pressure on the Obama Administration to delay or abandon Keystone XL, calling it “game over for the climate.” They’re also highlighting the immense conflicts of interest within the State Department and the proposed builder, TransCanada — pointing out that the agency outsourced the environmental review of the project to a TransCanada contractor.
Many see this as the ultimate test of the Obama Administration’s commitment to combating climate change. Harry Reid, one of the most powerful Democrats in Washington, appears to see it that way too.