The saga of the Keystone Kops like the Keystone Pipeline is one of unsuccessful, seemingly incompetent people repeatedly failing in a venture which in this case increases carbon emissions, could cause significant environmental damage and is still under study. For the ninth time the House voted on Friday to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline – 252 to 161.The roll call for our New Jersey Representatives was not what you might expect.
Republicans in the NJ delegation all voted YES to approve Keystone including Rep. Jon Runyan (R) who continues in office until January when his successor Tom MacArthur (R) is sworn in. Among the Democratic delegation the newly minted Don Norcross (replacing the already departed Rob Andrews) and Albio Sires also both voted YES. Donald Payne did not vote. The three remaining Democrats voted NO including Rush Holt who in January will be succeeded by Bonnie Watson Coleman (D).
Norcross said “I am proud to stand with members of both parties to support this project that can transform the American economy and put our nation back on the path of lasting growth.” As a candidate his platform supported “Job creation and Economic Development,” but did not mention energy policy. He calls himself an “Advocate for South Jersey,” but while the pipeline has national consequences its impact on South Jersey is considerably less significant. When he was sworn in he said he would “specifically like to serve on the House Committee of Energy and Commerce.” He might be welcomed by the Republican majority on the committee but his vote seems out of sync with his Democratic colleagues.
Rep. Albio Sires’ most recent website posting is a statement on Veterans Day, but there is no mention as to why he supported the pipeline. In fact in the past he supported an amendment to a bill (which did not pass) that would have required “a study of the vulnerabilities of the Keystone XL pipeline to a terrorist attack.”
As Roll Call points out, “the bill would still need 60-votes in the Democratic Senate before heading to President Barack Obama’s desk – a tall, but perhaps achievable order.” The House vote did not reach the veto-proof level. President Obama has never expressed support for the pipeline, but he has not said definitively that he will veto it.