In what will likely prove as meaningless a vote as the 37th repeal vote of Obamacare, on Wednesday night 241 members of the House of Representatives voted to approve the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. H.R. 3 would give Congress the power to approve the pipeline and allow TransCanada to build the northern leg without a cross-border permit.
These legislators support the oil industry’s push for the pipeline, even though it would create far fewer jobs than its supporters claim, would do nothing to make the country more energy independent, and would facilitate a dramatic increase in the production of high carbon polluting tar sands oil.
The 241 members who voted for the bill have taken a collective $39,150,812 in career contributions from the oil and gas industry, compared to $5,094,217 for those who voted no. Even more starkly, in the last election cycle, that split widens to $11,529,335 versus $742,125.
Only 19 Democrats voted for the bill, less than a third of the number (69) who supported a similar bill in April 2012. Even some supporters of the pipeline couldn’t vote for tonight’s bill, such as Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV):
“Last Congress, I voted for every piece of pro-Keystone pipeline legislation that was brought before this body… Something’s happened along the way between then and now. And that something is called a hijacking of this bill by the right wing.”
This is the eighth time Republicans pushed a bill promoting Keystone, and the fifth time it voted to speed up the approval process. A White House statement made clear that President Obama would veto the bill because it “conflicts with long-standing Executive branch procedures.”
While some conservatives may claim the pipeline would create tens of thousands of jobs, the most recent State Department draft environmental impact statement found that the pipeline would directly create only “3,900″ temporary construction jobs. After construction is complete, the operation of the pipeline would only support 35 permanent and 15 temporary jobs, with “negligible socioeconomic impacts.” Moreover, only 10 percent of the total workforce would be hired locally. For perspective, the U.S. had 3.4 million green energy jobs in 2011 and it was the fastest-growing industry in the country.