Tuesday, the U.S. Senate voted 57–41 to kill a “drill-baby-drill” amendment by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) to the transportation bill. His amendment, which would have opened the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to drilling, bypassed the administration to approve construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, opened practically the entire coast of the United States to drilling, and mandated other oil and gas exploration, fell 19 votes shy of the 60 required. The amendment also contained provisions to extend tax cuts.
Fossil-friendly Democratic senators Mark Begich (AK), Joe Manchin (WV), and Claire McCaskill (MO) joined with 38 Republicans to support the measure.
An unusual combination of seven Republicans opposed the measure, along with 50 members of the Democratic caucus. Three — Sens. Scott Brown (MA), Susan Collins (ME), and Olympia Snowe (ME) — represent Democratic-leaning New England states (both Snowe and Collins have previously opposed ANWR drilling).
The unfunded costs of the tax incentives in the bill likely scared off the four Republicans voting no — Sens. Bob Corker (TN), Jim DeMint (R-SC), Mike Lee (R-UT), Marco Rubio (FL) — all politicians who have criticized federal government spending. Like the New England senators, Rubio and DeMint also represent coastal states with vibrant tourism industries and cultures dependent on the beauty of their coastlines, which could be permanently crippled by offshore drilling.
In a statement, Corker said, “Even though I strongly support the Keystone pipeline, having voted for it various times in the past, I could not support this amendment because it violates the Budget Control Act enacted last year.”
It is no surprise that Pat Roberts would push a bill so beneficial to dirty energy companies — after all, his top source of campaign money since 1989 has been Koch Industries, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, with more than $130,000 in individual and PAC contributions.