COLUMN-Keystone vote underlines greens' isolation: John Kemp

Mon Mar 12, 2012 3:28pm GMT
 

By John Kemp

LONDON, March 12 (Reuters) - Only intense lobbying by the president himself ensured the latest congressional bid to approve the Keystone XL pipeline was defeated in the U.S. Senate last week.

But if Keystone's opponents won the latest skirmish, it appears they are losing the war. The vote revealed deep divisions among Senate Democrats as well as the waning influence of environmentalists and the growing power of the oil and gas lobby in Congress.

It seems only a matter of time before the controversial northern section of Keystone, which goes from Canada to Cushing, Oklahoma, is given the go-ahead. It will probably happen once the November elections are out of the way.

But Keystone's approval may be only the first salvo in a broader post-election effort to roll back ambitious environmental regulations enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other parts of the federal government, which critics blame for hampering the development of domestic oil, gas and coal resources.

Senate Republicans, many of whom are deeply hostile to the agency's policies on pollution control and climate change, are likely to find a growing number of allies among Democrats from industrial, energy-producing and conservative states who have broken with environmentalists over Keystone (2011) and cap and trade (2010) and are becoming disenchanted with the broad economic effects of EPA rule-making.

HOEVEN AMENDMENT   Continued...

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