Yesterday, GOP Senator Roy Blunt’s office sent out a press release touting his co-sponsorhip of legislation that would permit congress to authorize the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline:
This project would create 20,000 American jobs, generate $20.9 billion in new private sector spending, reinforce America’s energy security, and benefit 1,400 American job creators – all without costing taxpayers a dime,” Blunt concluded. “This project is good for America’s job creation and energy independence, and that’s why I’m proud to join my colleagues to co-sponsor this bill.
As is often the case with the esteemed Senator Blunt, the statement above is replete with misstatements and exaggerations:
— Unbiased studies put the number of jobs that XL Keystone would create at 6,000 temporary jobs tops, and some estimates are as low as 2,000 – or even that the project will kill more jobs than it will create.
— The U.S. is now a net exporter of products made from crude oil; any oil piped to the Gulf along Keystone would be sold to the highest bidder, countries like Mexico and China. Consequently, completion of the pipeline has little to do with energy independence.
So why is Blunt overstating the benefits? There are two likely reasons:
1. Political gamesmanship: Congressional Republicans are, as TPM’s Sahil Kapur argues, trying to exploit Democratic divisions and push Obama into a corner politically:
… It’s a question of whether we’d rather have the pipeline or the issue,” a GOP aide said in December. They chose the issue, bringing into question how much they care about the pipeline itself. Indeed, not forcing a decision would have neutralized the politics surrounding the matter.
But now Republicans have turned it into a weapon, and the politics are win-win for them. Their base overwhelmingly supports the pipeline and its capacity for some temporary job creation puts them on the right side of the most important issue on voters’ minds in this election year.
For Democrats, the issue is a headache because their constituencies are split: environmentalists oppose it, while labor and big business have forged an unlikely alliance in its favor. The GOP push may not yield anything substantive, but it forces Obama to keep taking sides within his base, and answer to Republican attacks that he’s blocking a job creation opportunity.
2. Money. When the senator in question is Roy Blunt, money always seems to enter the equation somewhere down the line. As Think Progress reports, senators who have supported Keystone XL have been well paid by PACs representing Big Oil. Of the 35 senators listed by Think Progress, Senator Blunt, as befits a new member of the senate leadership, has done very well for himself, having received $39,000, the third largest contribution.
Once again we are about to see corruption and political games trump reasoned and careful policy making. And, once again Roy Blunt’s right in the middle of it all. If you’re nostalgic for the Good Old Days in the Bush administration, it seems like your time has come again – if it ever went away, a proposition that may have been put to the lie by the election of Roy Blunt to the Senate.