Published on Friday, March 22, 2013 by Common Dreams

‘Senate’s Big Oil Benefactors’ Slammed for Keystone XL Vote

10 KXL amendment co-sponsors took $8 million from fossil fuel industry

– Jacob Chamberlain and Jon Queally, staff writers

Updated (6:42 pm):

Kxl Pipeline (Photo: via Flickr / Creative Commons License)

In a 62-37 vote late Friday, the US Senate passed a non-binding amendment calling for the approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

Environmental groups and climate activists were quick to condemn the vote, but said the “symbolic vote” was valuable because it revealed which members of the Senate have received the message on the seriousness posed by climate change and which continue to bend to the demands of industry lobbyists.

A post-vote analysis by Oil Change International, in fact, revealed that supporters of the amendment “received 3.5 times more in campaign contributions from fossil fuel interests” than those who voted against it. In total, the researchers found that supporters took an average of $499,648 from the industry before voting for the pipeline, for a total of $30,978,153.

“Today’s vote presents yet another reason why Congress is less popular than root canals,” said the group’s campaign director David Turnbull. “Every single effort from Congress to influence the Keystone XL pipeline decision has been backed by millions in dirty energy money, and today’s was no different. The vote today was nothing more than a 31 million dollar sideshow whose sole purpose was to kiss the rings of the Senate’s Big Oil benefactors.”

Speaking on behalf of, the group’s co-founder Bill McKibben said: “The fossil fuel industry asked the Senate to approve Keystone XL, but ordinary people around the country pushed back—our ‘leaders’ ended up taking a  meaningless vote instead, and giving us more months to convince the president not to sign off on this boondoggle.”

Sierra Club‘s executive director Michael Brune also responded to the Senate vote by saying, “Tar sands pipelines have no place in the debate over the federal budget and Congress has no business rubber stamping dangerous, unnecessary Big Oil projects. This vague, nonbinding resolution does nothing but show how eager these Senators are to please their Big Oil masters.”

McKibben indicated the vote was not a surprise, but also that the real momentum remained with those opposing the project. “Everything that happens in DC happens ugly, and this is no exception,” he said, “but it’s been beautiful to watch people rallying around the continent.”

McKibben’s group promised that their fight against the tar sands pipeline would continue and that the weeks ahead would find them mobilizing their supporters across the country “to hold Senators who sided with Big Oil and voted for Keystone XL accountable.”

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