Dem Senate Candidate: Build the Keystone XL Pipeline

Posted: Apr 24, 2014 3:00 PM
Dem Senate Candidate: Build the Keystone XL Pipeline

The Keystone XL Pipeline will not pass through Kentucky. But after months of stalling and foot-dragging, US Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes (D-KY) has finally come out in favor of the project. But things, you might say, just got a bit tense.

On the very same day (and mere hours before) she announced her support for it, an environmentalist group staunchly opposed to the project vowed to spend half a million dollars in the state unseating Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Oops:

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes called on President Barack Obama to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline, joining 11 incumbent Democrats as the party tries to keep control of the Senate this November.

Grimes' statement Wednesday to The Associated Press came on the same day that a group committed to blocking the pipeline's construction announced plans to spend $500,000 setting up field offices in Kentucky to defeat U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell. And it comes after McConnell and Republican party officials have repeatedly criticized Grimes for delaying her opinion on the project, which has become a key issue in Senate races across the country by pitting the value of economic development against protecting the environment.

"The administration should rule now and approve the project," Grimes said. "Putting Americans back to work in good-paying jobs that strengthen the middle class is my top priority and it should be the federal government's as well."

Question: Will this special interest group now pull out of the race or stick it out as planned? After all, both candidates now support the project. Well, it seems to me they’re dead set on sending Sen. McConnell into early retirement, even in light of recent events:

Before Grimes' announcement Wednesday, a San Francisco-based super PAC that opposes the Keystone pipeline construction announced plans to spend $500,000 to open field offices in Kentucky aimed at defeating McConnell. In a news release, Credo SuperPAC said it was skipping Sen. Mary Landrieu's tight Senate race in Louisiana because she "frequently votes against progressives." Landrieu supports the Keystone pipeline construction.

But Becky Bond, the group's president, said their No. 1 priority is to defeat McConnell, whom she called "one of the most obstructionist leaders we have in Washington."

"We think everyone in position of power should do everything they can to slow climate change," Bond said. "But the Keystone XL issue is not up to the Senate. It's up to the president. The most important vote for us is the vote cast for majority leader."

Grimes now joins 11 Senate Democrats calling for the president to approve the pipeline. He won’t, of course, for reasons that are patently obvious; he’ll reportedly hand down his decision sometime after the midterms.

But given his track record on meeting his own deadlines, perhaps we shouldn’t hold our breath.