Colorado Senators are MIA on Keystone Pipeline

June 3, 2014

Coloradans may have just received the disturbing truth as to why their two U.S. senators were missing in action when Congress was ready to vote to put thousands of Americans to work on the Keystone XL pipeline. Sadly, the reason is partisan politics – or rather, millions of dollars in campaign contributions from a California billionaire.

The good news is that there is still time for both senators to do the right thing for their constituents. In fact, their two votes would almost certainly put a Keystone XL bill on the president’s desk, finally putting an end to the politics of delay.

In Colorado, both Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet have consistently denounced the Washington politics miring President Obama’s Keystone XL decision. Bennet told The Wall Street Journal, “I do support [Keystone XL]. I think it’s become ridiculously political. It just has become another one of those idiotic Washington political games that bounces back and forth and doesn’t actually accomplish anything.”

Udall added: “I think there is a reasonable argument that the pipeline is in the national interest. I also think there are serious questions about air quality, water quality and land-use effects on the pipeline. Am I frustrated it’s taken this long? Yes, but the important goal is to get it right.”

Given these strong statements, one would expect both Colorado senators to be leaders in the recent bipartisan effort in the Senate to end this political delay. Yet even after the State Department found – for the fifth time in five years – that Keystone XL would have minimal impact to the environment, neither Udall or Bennet joined their 11 Democratic colleagues who called on the president to finally make a decision on the pipeline.

As the Wall Street Journal rightly noted, “Notably absent from the letter are Colorado’s two Democratic senators: Mark Udall, who is up for reelection this year, and Michael Bennet, who chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and voted yes on a symbolic measure last year.”

One week after the letter was sent to the president, the administration announced it was delaying its final determination on the pipeline until after the midterm elections. That spurred a call to action: a strong coalition of Democrats and Republicans in the Senate immediately introduced legislation to force President Obama to approve the pipeline. Forty-five Republicans and 11 Democrats signed on to the bill. But once again, Udall and Bennet were nowhere to be found.

In fact, the failure of Colorado’s senators to join the effort is one of the main reasons the bill didn’t make it across the finish line. Their two votes – given their positions within the party – would have likely meant the bill would have secured the 60 votes necessary to pass in the Senate. Again, due to partisan politics, the bill never got a vote.

What’s behind the senators’ failure to stand up for Coloradans? Perhaps the answer came when California billionaire and anti-Keystone XL activist, Tom Steyer announced he will be pouring millions of dollars into a select set of U.S. Senate campaigns across the country, including Colorado.

Udall’s ties with Steyer are well documented; earlier this year he attended a fundraiser held at Steyer’s home in San Francisco. That fundraiser was to support the national Democratic organization focused on electing Democrats to the Senate, which is headed by Bennet. It’s hardly surprising to learn therefore, that after Bennet and Udall refused to join the bipartisan effort to approve the pipeline, that Steyer vowed to make Udall’s reelection this year a top priority.

This disturbing political reality comes despite overwhelming bipartisan support for Keystone XL in Colorado. Former Obama appointee and former Colorado U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar put it best when he said construction of Keystone XL can “be done in a way that creates a win-win for energy and the environment.” Polls conducted in the state show 66 percent of Colorado voters support Keystone XL.

Those polls mirror the results in national polls, which find a clear majority of Democrats, Republicans and Independents support the project. That’s why union and labor groups have rallied across the country to tell President Obama to approve Keystone XL. That’s why former Obama national security advisors such as Gen. Jim Jones and Thomas Donilon support Keystone XL. That’s why 11 Democrats signed on to a letter urging President Obama to let his “final decision be the right one, finding that the Keystone XL pipeline is in the national interest.” It’s no wonder that a recent poll found that over 60 percent of Americans believe the delay in Keystone XL is due to politics rather than “legitimate concerns” about the pipeline.

The decision to end the politics of delay over the Keystone XL pipeline is in the hands of Colorado’s two senators. Will they stand up for their constituents or stand by a California billionaire?

So far, it seems they have made the wrong choice. But there is still time to change course – in doing so they could help put tens of thousands of Americans to work and significantly strengthen our energy security.

Matt Dempsey is the spokesperson for Oil Sands Fact Check.

Comments made by visitors are not representative of The Colorado Observer staff.

4 Responses to Colorado Senators are MIA on Keystone Pipeline

  1. Bob Terry
    June 4, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    These two Stooges..that promote jobs, are probably the biggest decline of this state.
    Udall is right there for all of us, yeah right. When the rubber hits the road, Mark is silent..but he is for you

    Union people wake up.. I was union till I retired 40 years BoLE with the railroad.
    He nor Bennett DO NOT F’ing CARE!! about you or your well being. They are marching on the OBAMA Doctrine. What about Coal, Natural Gas, energy, nah they are not there.. The pipeline…MAJOR not there!! They don’t care about JOBS!! psst they are for jobs..

    Vote these people out…they are killing you and you are paying your mindless dues so they can promise you something!! and for your Vote. Yeah buddy they got your vote and still waiting.. Like the Gypsies in Italy wanting your donation PREGO!! plop that money and receive nothing ..

    Wake UP Stand Up..or let these Morons control you. Oh Yeah when the Dem’s had the House and Senate..what did they do for you or what did they accomplish…silence..yeah NOTHING!!

  2. Energy Citizens
    June 6, 2014 at 8:02 am

    This article details a sad state of affairs in American politics. Senators Udall and Bennet should be encouraged to take politics out of energy. They both say they support the Keystone XL—and now it’s time for their words to match their actions.

    • Bob Terry
      June 7, 2014 at 2:50 pm

      Sorry Renee these two individuals care about two things…Staying elected and doing the agenda. Udall’s brother in New Mexico is bring out a bill to revoke the first amendment to the Constitution. And these two are all over it. Shows where they truly lie. They want YOU and ME to worship and cow tow to them ….for me ain’t happening

  3. don
    July 14, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    How do you figure they are absent? They both oppose it. That ain’t being absent.


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