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This post made possible by the Patty Dumpling Endowed Chair for Clean Gas and Clean Coal and Clean Oil Spills and Clean Tar Sands and Word Salad.


In a vote that either killed the economy forever or rescued the environment forever, the U.S. Senate last night fell one vote short of passing a bill calling for immediate approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline. The bill was supposed to magically make Louisiana Republicans like Sen. Mary Landrieu, although it's not clear how. But Landrieu was not quite able to round up enough Democrats to support the bill, and now she is reduced to hoping that saying nice things about National Adoption Day will get her reelected.

The only thing that everyone seems to agree on about the Keystone XL pipeline is that it is a very important symbol of either the Republican Party's commitment to jobs, jobs, jobs, or the Democrats' commitment to the environment. On the jobs side, it would create several thousand temporary construction jobs, though only 35 permanent jobs to keep the thing running. (Yes, yes, there'd also be spinoff jobs to refine all that oil.) On the environmental side, the case is probably stronger -- the tar sands where the oil comes from are incredibly dirty, and just extracting the stuff requires burning more fossil fuels than does conventional oil drilling, and the oil itself is also dirtier and carbonier. But even there, killing XL won't stop the tar sands from being drilled or scraped or however they muck the stuff out -- it's currently being shipped by rail, which is also far more prone to spills due to derailments than pipelines are to leaks, and there's no evidence that would change even if the Keystone XL plan vanished forever. We still come down on the side of not building the pipeline, because the poor old world is burning too much fossil fuel already, so why encourage the bastards by making it easier? We're with Bernie Sanders on this one -- we need to be moving in the other direction.

And of course, the entire exercise was kind of pointless, since chances are that Barack Obama would have vetoed the bill -- he at least has a realistic view of the actual impact on jobs, telling the New York Times last year that there's "no evidence" that the pipeline would be the jobs cornucopia the Republicans claim:

“Republicans have said that this would be a big jobs generator ... There is no evidence that that’s true. The most realistic estimates are this might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline, which might take a year or two, and then after that we’re talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 jobs in an economy of 150 million working people.”

He said 2,000 jobs were “a blip relative to the need.”

So, sorry, Mary Landrieu, you probably won't get Republicans to like you, and sorry, Republicans, even when you take over the Senate and pass your very own Keystone bill in January, it's still not likely to get signed, probably, unless Barry finds something he thinks he can trade it for. How about confirming some appointees? Ah, yes, and sorry, Midwest: one way or another, you're probably getting a pipeline and some oil spills.

Hmm... are there some desert tortoises we can go commune with?

[NYT / Newsweek / Daily Beast / Burlington Free Press]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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