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March 26, 2013

Afloat on Fossil Fuel Money, Senate Votes for Keystone Pipeline
    by Robert Kropp

Oil Change International reports that the 62 Senators supporting the controversial tar sands pipeline in a non-binding vote have received $31 million in campaign contributions from fossil fuel interests. -- President Obama's final decision on whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry crude oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Gulf Coast, may not come for months. In the meantime, public opposition to the pipeline, the construction of which would encourage the expansion of what has been called the "the most destructive project on Earth," is likely to grow.

Already, in February, 35,000 people gathered in Washington DC to rally against the pipeline in what organizers described as the largest climate change protest in US history.

What are the environmental impacts of constructing the pipeline? According to the Pembina Institute, "Filling Keystone XL with oil sands will cause a 36 per cent increase from current oil sands production."

"The per-barrel greenhouse gas emissions associated with oil sands extraction and upgrading are estimated to be 220 to 350 per cent (3.2 to 4.5 times) higher than conventional crude oil produced in Canada or the United States," the Institute continued.

The subject of the pipeline came up in the US Senate this week, when 62 Senators voted in favor of a meaningless amendment supporting its construction. The amendment was included in the Senate version of a budget bill which is unlikely to cross the President's desk. Nevertheless, Bill McKibben of described the level of support as "stomach-churning."

"This amounts to symbolic chest thumping by the oil industry," McKibben wrote, "showing just how many Senators they can get to jump when told to."

Evidence of Senators jumping on command has been supplied by Oil Change International, whose Dirty Energy Money records how much money every US legislator receives from the fossil fuel industries.

Analysis by Oil Change International reveals that the ten original co-sponsors of the amendment have each received an average of $807,517 from the fossil fuel industries, 254% more than the average non-sponsoring Senator.

Additionally, the analysis found that the 62 Senators voting for the amendment have received 3.5 times more in fossil fuel contributions than those who voted against it. Over the course of their careers, the 62 Senators have received $31 million in campaign contributions from fossil fuel interests.

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