Lawmakers discuss Keystone with LOGA

By By Frank DiCesare / American Press

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said she has legislation on the Keystone XL pipeline that she can move through Congress, and

that she would like President Obama’s approval well before Election Day.

In an interview with the American Press

on Thursday, Landrieu, who is running for a fourth term in the Senate,

said she and U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., are taking

the lead on three pieces of legislation on Keystone that she would

like to have the president’s signature on in the next three


“I’m going to do everything I can,”

Landrieu said. “We’re working on getting a 60-vote threshold now in the

Senate. I hope

the president will do it; I will suggest that he should. But if he

can’t, then Congress will have to push him to that position

through resolutions and laws.”

Landrieu’s comments came after her 30-minute speech to members of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, which held its 2014

annual meeting at L’Auberge. LOGA guest speakers also included U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy,

R-Baton Rouge. All Louisiana lawmakers voiced their support for the oil and gas industry, as Southwest Louisiana prepares

for more than $60 billion in plant expansions over the next five years.

Vitter, who is running for governor after two terms in the Senate, told the American Press that Landrieu’s comments on Keystone were “election-year posturing.” Although Vitter did not mention the controversial pipeline

in his LOGA speech, he told the Press that while 60 votes in favor of Keystone is possible, a 67-vote margin in the Senate — needed to overturn a veto from the

president — “will never happen.”

“We’re not going to get 67 votes in the Harry Reid Senate, and Mary knows it,” Vitter said. “This is about Barack Obama and

whether he will ever do the right thing.”

Cassidy, who is running against Landrieu for her Senate seat, told the Press that a bill was recently passed by the House and is now in the Senate that would change the process by which Keystone is

approved without involving Obama in the decision making.

“Right now how the process works, the

president has to sign off, so it goes through him,” Cassidy said. “We

don’t have to

make it that way. You could say that if the State Department

establishes that Keystone is environmentally sound and does not

otherwise violate treaties, then it would be voted on by the

Senate and the House without the input of the president.”

Cassidy told LOGA that the carbon footprint of that oil and gas would be less if the product was shipped though a pipeline

to Gulf Coast refineries than if it was barged off the ocean to countries with “very lax environmental standards and then

shipped back.”

“Clearly the environmental impact is less if we do it here,” he added. “It’s a no-brainer that it should be approved, creating

jobs here instead of China.”

Cassidy said there is “a theory” that Landrieu “is in such trouble” that the Democratic leadership will allow Keystone to

be built so she can get credit for it and be re-elected.

Landrieu, who was recently appointed head of the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee, told LOGA members that she

has been “a strong and vocal supporter” of the Keystone pipeline. She said the project “should have been built years ago.”

“As I conduct my first hearing to move

our committee in a much more energy-robust direction, we will be

advocating as of Tuesday

morning in Washington for the permit for the Keystone pipeline,”

Landrieu said. “America can and should be a leading energy

power in this world. We in Louisiana understand this. We

understand it, along with our friends in Texas.”

Landrieu also took a shot at the left wing. She said an increasing amount of moderate Democrats and Republicans are voicing

their support for industry.

“All you hear are the few voices on the

Democratic left who just spend all day long bashing industry,” she

said. “They don’t

know the industry; they don’t have much of the industry in their

counties or in their states. All they do is flick a switch,

the lights go on and they’re happy. They have no idea where it

comes from.”

Vitter devoted most of his speech to tort reform and examples of the federal government’s history of intrusion in the industry


He cited the Environmental Protection

Agency as an example of the federal government “getting in the way” of

industry. Vitter,

a ranking member of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works

Committee, said the EPA has tried several times in recent years

to link hydraulic fracturing to groundwater contamination. In each

instance, Vitter said, the agency failed.

Vitter told LOGA members that the Obama administration has made “generally positive comments” about hydraulic fracturing.

“The bad news is in many instances their agencies have acted otherwise, and the EPA is a great example,” he said.

Landrieu, however, said the United

States’ policy should be to build gas and oil infrastructure with “the

least environmental

impact.” She said Washington must also be respectful of the

jurisdiction states have over laying pipelines and transmission


“We have to be respectful of the laws of states,” Landrieu said. “We just can’t run roughshod over them.”