Here's Begich's position on the pipeline:
“America needs more affordable energy and the jobs its development would produce, so the Obama administration’s decision to deny or delay the Keystone Pipeline project from moving forward is disappointing and frustrating. I’ll continue to push the administration to approve this jobs-creating project.Begich made that statement back on January 19. Today, here's where he is reported to be standing:
“Meanwhile, this development underscores the need to keep moving forward on developing Alaska’s enormous energy potential in the Arctic. Good progress has been made getting to work drilling offshore in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas and in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska this year. We must keep that momentum going.
“I’ll also continue to push for oil and gas development in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This area was set aside by Congress specifically for oil and gas production, and it needs to be part of a comprehensive energy plan for the country.”
If built, the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would put six states at risk of toxic oil spills along its 1700-mile route, and would add about five billion tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere over its intended 50-year lifespan of bringing dirty crude from Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries for foreign export.Here is what is supposed to come down this week, during which the chances of Begich stabbing Obama in the back are probably about four to one in favor of the dirty deed during an election year:
Other Democratic senators [along with Sen. Jeff Bingaman] who have expressed support for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline include finance chair Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), budget chair Kent Conrad (D-ND), Jon Tester (D-MT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Mark Begich (D-AK), Ben Nelson (D-NE), and Claire McCaskill (D-MO).
This week, the U.S. Senate is considering whether to add language forcing approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline to major transportation legislation. In a C-SPAN interview on Friday, Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), the chair of the Senate energy committee, indicated his support for the construction of the risky project after sufficient environmental review. After agreeing with the Obama administration’s decision to require a full environmental review of the pipeline, Bingaman claimed that “the American public would like to see us go ahead with the project to the extent they know what the project entails,” calling it “meritorious”:What Bingaman said is somewhat confusing, but he will vote with the GOP on this. So will Begich - unless we get on the phones and computers and call and email his office. As this is not a very central idea in the minds of 99.5% of Alaskans, I'm not expecting many to heed this appeal.
They shouldn’t be forced to issue a permit until they are satisfied on the environmental effects involved. So I think that point is valid. Whether that requires another six or eight months, that’s open to question. It is a good issue to try to get resolved some way or another. The American public would like to see us go ahead with the project to the extent they know what the project entails. It sounds meritorious. We’ve got pipelines all over the country. That is true with most members of Congress, too. I think most members of Congress probably would like to go ahead to get the issue resolved.
I've written a few articles about the pipeline controversy, but none recently. By far the best recent article on this issue by a local blogger was posted this morning, by Steve Aufrecht, at What Do I Know? Here's Steve, bringing a video he made two years ago into context:
I got this email about impending legislation which sneaks an approval of the Keystone Pipeline into a transportation bill. Here's a letter about it and the Citizens Climate Lobby is urging people to contact their Senators.
The Senate could vote as early as tomorrow on a plan to greenlight construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Despite President Obama's rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline a few weeks ago, Republicans in Congress are once again engaging in hostage-taking. Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) is trying to attach a measure to the transportation bill that would force approval of Keystone XL.
Tragically, some moderate Democrats appear to be playing along - so this bill could have enough votes to pass.
No evaluation process. No National Interest Determination. No new route identified through Nebraska.
To demonstrate a massive, urgent, grassroots backlash, our friends at 350 have organized a 24-hour petition drive to the Senate. Nearly three dozen groups are emailing their members right now, and 350's Bill McKibben will announce the effort tonight on the Colbert Report.
Republicans and some Democrats in Congress are so owned by Big Oil, that they are willing to bypass the pipeline review process designed to protect Americans from its very real danger.
Our grassroots pressure forced President Obama to reject the pipeline when Republicans tried to force a decision in 60 days. He said it wasn't enough time for the thorough evaluation process we need.
Republicans are claiming that incomplete process was enough. But just last week the State Department Inspector General released a report finding a lack of technical and scientific expertise at the State Department to evaluate the impacts of the pipeline.1 So clearly, this pipeline hasn't been adequately evaluated.
Our Congress should be in the business of acting in America's interest. Instead, their business appears to be Big Oil's business.
Interestingly, Steve's post doesn't mention Begich, whose position has been known for almost four weeks. Steve has known Mark since before Begich was on the Anchorage Assembly. Back in the summer of 2008, before the Democratic Primary, Steve was one of the people who urged me to lighten up on Mark, and to use my contacts nationally to get Begich accepted by progressive funding organizations that were quite leery of Mark's bona fides as a real Democrat. I did that, especially after the primary. Given how close the election was, the money I helped raise then was probably more important than Begich or his staff have ever acknowledged.Not convinced? At least look at Eriel's original video posted two years ago to hear how the Tar Sands are affecting her people. It should make people think about this project and what sorts of environmental oversight is needed.Please help make a big statement today to remind our Senators who they really work for, and show huge opposition to this ill-conceived, disastrous pipeline. And please share it widely so we make as large an impact as possible over the next 24 hours, and Bill McKibben has a large number of signatures to announce tonight on the Colbert Report.
Let's see if Begich votes with the GOP crowd and Blue Dogs on this one.