House vote today to take Keystone Pipeline decision out of Obama’s hands

As of yesterday, when this was written, the House planned to vote today to take the Keystone Pipeline decision out of the hands of the Executive Branch — meaning the State Department, the EPA and President Obama — and deem the TransCanada Sludgepipe crossing the U.S. border to the Gulf, in effect, approved by act of Congress.

Wow. And it could pass both houses. Howie Klein with the goods (which in this case is the bads):

The Northern Route Approval Act seeks to remove President Obama from the approval process, even though the pipeline crosses a foreign border…

A summary of the bill (H.R. 3; my emphasis everywhere):

Northern Route Approval Act – Declares that a Presidential permit shall not be required for the pipeline described in the application filed on May 4, 2012, by TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P. to the Department of State for the Keystone XL pipeline, including the Nebraska reroute evaluated in the Final Evaluation Report issued by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality in January 2013 and approved by the Nebraska governor.


Keystone Pipeline route

Deems the final environmental impact statement issued by the Secretary of State on August 26, 2011, coupled with such Final Evaluation Report, to satisfy all requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and of the National Historic Preservation Act.

Grants original and exclusive jurisdiction to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to determine specified issues (except for review by the Supreme Court on writ of certiorari). [This is the friendliest court in the country for these matters.]

Deems the Secretary of the Interior to have issued a written statement setting forth the Secretary’s opinion that the Keystone XL pipeline project will not jeopardize the continued existence of the American burying beetle or destroy or adversely modify American burying beetle critical habitat.

States that any taking of the American burying beetle that is incidental to the construction or operation and maintenance of the Keystone XL pipeline shall not be considered a prohibited taking of such species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

Deems the Secretary to have issued: (1) a grant of right-of-way and temporary use permit pursuant to the Mineral Leasing Act and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, and (2) a special purpose permit under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (described in a certain application filed with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for the Keystone XL pipeline).

Directs the Secretary of the Army to issue permits pursuant the Rivers and Harbors Appropriations Act of 1899 for the construction, operation, and maintenance of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Authorizes the Secretary to waive any procedural requirement that the Secretary considers desirable in order to accomplish the purposes of this Act.

Prohibits the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from prohibiting or restricting an activity or use of an area that is authorized under this Act.

In other words, H.R. 3 completely approves the Keystone Pipeline and cuts everyone else out of the equation except the Big Oil–friendly DC Circuit Court. Nice or what? Now that’s lobbying money well spent.

And not much lobbying money for the multi-billion-dollar result. How much? Read on for how cheaply “our” representatives whore themselves out.

Is this bipartisan?

In short, yes, and not in a good way. Howie looks at the makeup of the House and it appears to him that this will pass in true bipartisan fashion. Members of both parties who have taken what he calls “legalistic bribes” — campaign contribution “walking around money” to you — will be eager to put their stamp of approval on this. (And in my opinion, this bill becomes an opportunity to apply for Oil money from those who have been left out of the Big Oil cash bonanza. That is — if you, Ms Congressperson, haven’t yet been offered your share of the loot from Oil lobbyists, now’s your chance to apply for the next round of funding.)

Klein starts with Blue Dog–New Dem John Barrow:

John Barrow (GA), one of the shadiest and most cowardly fake-Dems in the House, is a co-chair of the reactionary Blue Dogs and a member of the corrupt, corpor[at]ely-owned New Dems. In 2012 the top 38 recipients of legalistic bribes from Big Oil & Gas were all Republicans. The 39th biggest bribe taker was John Barrow, who got $106,900. The lobbyists who are in charge of bribing Members of Congress got more than just the tweet above from Barrow.

Tomorrow, when the House Republicans, vote to take approval for the Keystone XL pipeline out of President Obama’s hands– in the bill co-sponsored by Barrow and fellow Blue Dog Jim Matheson of Utah— Barrow will have lined up several of the most corrupt Democrats in the House, mostly Blue Dogs and New Dems, to cross the aisle and vote for big profits for Big Oil and bigger healthcare bills for ordinary Americans who will be sickened by air pollution.

So, as little as $100,000 to John Barrow buys his major support for multiple billions for TransCanada — and for all the other owners of oil, pipelines, and refineries connected to the spider web of pipe running through our two nations. (As noted here, David Koch will also benefit personally and big. And he’s not alone.)

$100,000 versus, let’s say, $10,000,000,000 in total multi-year revenue — that’s a ratio of 100,000 : 1, or 0.000001% of the total haul. That’s not even a tip for valet-parking the car at the local mall. If Barrow were a hooker, he’d be taking payment in popsicle wrappers for 48 hours of anything-you-want-sir.

Stunning how cheaply these people sell themselves. If I were Barrow’s agent, he’d make actual money — I’d want at least 0.1% of three years’ revenue. Off the top. Per congressman bought. Or I’d offer a flat fee — $1 million per congressperson bought per year, for three years.

To give you a sense of the scale of the money involved, ExxonMobil’s 2012 revenue was nearly $500 billion dollars. In one year. Spending $350 million for three years running to buy House or Senate “services” nets out to something like 0.007% of revenue for those three years. Cheap at twice the price, say I. Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson can still jet to St. Andrews anytime David Koch or Robert Rubin invite him, and not muss a hair of his head or miss a payment on his 12th villa in France (or wherever) .

Will this become law?

It well could. Here’s the path. I’ll start with Klein again:

It will in all likelihood pass the House tomorrow [May 22] and, with the efforts of Barrow and Matheson, will be hailed as a “bipartisan” bill. It will then go over to the Senate where it could very well pass as well, since so many Democrats take massive bribes from Big Oil.

Perhaps Obama prefers it this way, so he doesn’t get the blame for this pollution bill.

I’ll go further. The odds this will pass are very high in my estimation.

The Republicans in the House can pass it on their own, but Democrats will jump all over it as well. (When the vote is taken, I’ll have the names for you. Climate criminals all.)

The Senate has already taken a straw (sense of the Senate) vote on Keystone, and it passed 62-37-1 in March. What has changed?

Obama can keep his fingerprints off the approval process if he can point to Congress and say, “Hey, what’dya gonna do?”

Keystone_320px-Keystone_XL_demonstration,_8-2011I think Obama will sign in a heartbeat if the House and Senate give him veto-proof majorities. (Returning the bill to Congress to make them cast those vetoes is too in-your-face for Obama, since everyone knows that they’ve already handed him quite a gift — a bill everyone in Washington wants, and a way for him to steer clear of it.)

My only question is, can Big Oil pulls enough Congressional strings to make House and Senate Republicans give Obama what will look like a victory in the Oil-bought press? I guess we’ll see, but if this happens, it will happen fast. The protestors will have never gotten started.

Well played, enemies of our species. Well played.


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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