Tom Steyer Not Happy with Possible Vote on Keystone

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(FILES) This May 13, 2013 file photo shows environmental activists as they march through midtown protesting the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, in New York. Newly-empowered Republicans keen to strike a symbolic blow against President Barack Obama's divisive energy policy have a ready-to-launch opening salvo: Keystone, a controversial pipeline transporting Canadian tar-sands oil to US refineries. The midterm elections on November 4, 2014 ushered in a new Republican majority in the Senate, and incoming leader Senator Mitch McConnell is believed to have enough votes to overcome blocking tactics by Democrats when he puts forward legislation to approve the $7-billion pipeline. AFP PHOTO/Don EmmertDON EMMERT/AFP/Getty ImagesDON EMMERT / AFP - Getty Images

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The issue most important to billionaire political activist Tom Steyer: climate change and ensuring that the Keystone XL Pipeline doesn’t become a reality.

One week after the midterm elections in which Steyer pumped nearly $70 million of his personal wealth to back Democrats, NBC News reports that Democrats are considering holding a vote on Keystone to help Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana who is locked in a runoff against Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy.

Landrieu is from an oil producing state and the thinking behind holding the vote is that it will give Landrieu another issue to campaign on in the conservative state.

Steyer strategically refused to help Landrieu in the midterms, despite the Democratic label she holds, because of her support for Keystone and ties to oil companies.

Steyer’s top adviser, Chris Lehane, said the Democrats’ idea is a bad one for the environment and electoral politics.

“Appeasement on Keystone was bad policy before the election, bad policy on Election Day and bad policy today as it is a bad deal for America - it would significantly increase pollution and ship dirty oil overseas all to make money for a foreign oil company,” Lehane said. “(A)ppeasement on Keystone would represent selling out our kids to increase the profits of a foreign oil company. This is one of those legacy defining issues where one's position will signify whether they are for or against standing up for the next generation on the issue of climate.”

Democrats lost eight Senate seats in the midterms, forcing them to concede their majority. If Landrieu loses, that would bring Democratic loses to nine.


- Leigh Ann Caldwell

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