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Senator Mary Landrieu, a Democrat from Louisiana, right, speaks as Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, looks on during a news conference.
Senator Mary Landrieu, a Democrat from Louisiana, right, speaks as Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, looks on during a news conference.

Static was ecstatic that the Senate voted “no” on the Keystone Pipeline last week. But the 59-41 margin was far closer than would have been the case with any group of reasonable citizens voting.

The slim margin was due, it seems, to a last-ditch effort by Democrats to save U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu’s seat by making her out to be a pipeline supporter who could sway her allies. It was a pathetic ploy: The Louisianan’s runoff election is Dec. 6, and she’s down by 20 points.

Landrieu has never been a progressive Democrat. In fact, she’s looked more like a conservative Republican throughout her career. Also, even if she were to get re-elected, it wouldn’t save the Dems’ Senate majority or change the political picture for the next two years. So it was unbelievably callous for Democrats to vote for a pipeline that promises to create an astonishing 35 permanent jobs while risking the ruin of the Ogallala Aquifer and America’s breadbasket, just so the Koch brothers can ship tar sands garbage to China. The tar sands are by far the worst, most dangerously polluting form of hydrocarbon that we know of. What they’re best at is creating environmental disasters, as in the Kalamazoo River, where a tar sands spill in July 2010 still isn’t cleaned up.

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[pullquote_right]Well, to listen to our own Sen. John Cornyn, there are 250,000 jobs at stake. To listen to Landrieu, there are “millions of jobs” to be created. To listen to TransCanada, there are 35. [/pullquote_right]TransCanada, which owns Keystone, has made it clear that they will not be responsible for any spills on American soil, and the U.S. won’t even collect taxes on the stuff because it’s all going through tax-free Port Arthur on its way to Asia. So what’s in it for us? Well, to listen to our own Sen. John Cornyn, there are 250,000 jobs at stake. To listen to Landrieu, there are “millions of jobs” to be created. To listen to TransCanada, there are 35.

Yes, some temporary work will go to already-employed pipefitters and their associates, but we’ve already seen how this works with the southern leg of the Keystone, running from Cushing, Okla., to Houston refineries and on to Port Arthur. Not a single job went to anyone who was not already working. So there was no job creation whatsoever, but a lot of damage done to the landowners in Texas and Oklahoma who had their land taken by eminent domain.

So — good for the Senate in rejecting it. A Bronx cheer to the Democrats for not making it a rout. And it’s especially bad for U.S. citizens because the Republicans have already promised to take the issue up again the moment they take control of the Senate in January.

President Obama has almost said he’ll veto it if the bill reaches him. Let’s hope he’s got the spine when it’s time. This is a lose-lose for the United States. Nothing to gain, and a lot to risk in trying to make the Koch brothers — the largest shareholders in the Alberta tar sands — another $100 billion.

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