Udall spokesman Mike Saccone said the senator would likely vote against any measure to force construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, saying Udall has been “eminently clear that he doesn’t want Congress to inject politics into the administration’s ongoing review process.”
“That’s why he voted against Democratic and Republican amendments that attempted to dictate a result on the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline,” Saccone told Fox31 news. “Any votes this week on the pipeline wouldn’t be any different.”
Udall voted against a resolution urging President Obama to sign off on the much-delayed project in March 2013, but he’s now locked in a tight reelection race with Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, a strong Keystone supporter.
The issue has put Udall in a tight spot: Polls show Coloradans are overwhelmingly in favor of building the pipeline, but Udall’s allies in the environmental movement, including billionaire funder Tom Steyer, are adamantly opposed.
Katie Falkenberg, spokeswoman for 350 Colorado, an affiliate of the national climate-change group 350.org, said Tuesday’s protest was aimed at keeping Udall in the fold as the Senate considers a bipartisan measure urging President Obama to approve the pipeline.
“There are only four deciding votes and he’s one of the swing votes, and so we want to make sure he knows how we feel,” said Falkenberg. “And the other thing is we know he’s up for reelection this year and we know that he’s running against a Republican who has a really strong oil background and really wants to see this pipeline go through.”
She said the protesters wanted to remind Udall “that if he votes against this bill, that it might be beneficial for him.”
“We’re always concerned that our politicians are going to switch sides and support something that we’re not in favor of, just because it makes sense for their reelection or it makes sense for fundraising, or something that doesn’t actually take into account our rights and our issues and our desires,” said Falkenberg.
Interestingly, Udall’s top contributor in his 2008 Senate election campaign was the League of Conservation Voters, a national environmental group that donated more than $70,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Short called approving the Keystone XL pipeline a “no-brainer.”
“But instead of acting in the national interest and siding with the vast majority of Coloradans, Mark Udall is doing the bidding of his special-interest donors and President Obama by refusing to green light Keystone,” said Short in a Tuesday statement.
“Udall can try to hide behind President Obama all he wants, but the reason Keystone keeps getting put on hold is because he, like the president he supports 99 percent of the time, would rather take special-interest campaign cash than say yes to jobs,” Short said.
Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat facing a tough reelection fight, has sponsored a bipartisan bill urging the Obama administration to sign off on constructing the pipeline.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was expected to announce Tuesday whether he would allow a vote on Keystone, but talks came to a standstill and no vote is expected this week.
The Obama administration has put off making a decision on whether to green-light the pipeline for five years. The latest delay is expected to push a decision on the pipeline until after the November election.
About 100 protesters, waving signs with anti-Keystone XL slogans, rallied across the street from Udall’s office building on 18th Street. A dozen demonstrators then entered the building in order to present his staff with a letter urging him to oppose the pipeline.
The protesters said they planned to deliver the same letter to Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet’s office.