Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) blasted her Republican colleagues on Thursday over their push for the passage of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would transport tar sand oil from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast.
"Who does this new Republican Congress work for? Foreign oil companies or the American people?" Warren asked.
The House of Representatives passed legislation in support of the construction of the Keystone pipeline, in defiance of an almost-certain presidential veto.
As CNN reports, "Congressional Republicans have made the pipeline one of their first priorities in the new session, arguing it would created tens of thousands of jobs, and pointing out the measure has received Democratic support."
Indeed, more than two dozen House Democrats voted in support of the bill, and a Senate committee passed its Keystone legislation on Thursday, scheduling a vote for later this month.
Republicans claim the Keystone project will employ tens of thousands of Americans, lessen the nation's dependence on foreign oil, and perhaps even further ease prices paid at the gas pumps. But detractors of the bill point to much more sobering numbers, along with environmental risks, as reasons against building the proposed pipeline through the heart of America.
According to the State Department's report on the proposed project, there would be an estimated 42,000 jobs, both direct and indirect, created by the Keystone Pipeline project for the one to two years it is estimated that construction would take. After construction is completed, there would be only 35 permanent positions left -- about as many as the opening of one franchise restaurant, one detractor pointed out. Furthermore, of those 42,000 jobs initially created, it's likely that only a few thousand of them would actually be American jobs.
And at the end of the pipeline, the majority of the oil would be released into the world market, not an exclusively North American market, meaning that it would have nominal impact on the price of oil in the country or the nation's reliance on the Middle East for oil.
By comparison, Warren argued, the passage of a permanent highway bill to rebuild America's crumbling infrastructure would create upwards of eight million jobs in the next four years, while being beneficial to the country as crumbling roads and bridges are repaired.
"What if we focus on highways instead of pipelines?" Warren asks.
Warren also wondered about the new GOP-led Senate's priorities, as the Keystone XL pipeline is the first matter being brought forth. "It's not about jobs, it's not about energy. Why is this bill so urgent?" asked Warren. "The answer is power, money and power."
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) agrees wholeheartedly, and also charged Republicans with ignoring important transportation problems to advance Keystone.
"The president should only sign bills that are good for America, but the Keystone tar sands pipeline does nothing for our country and everything for Canada," Boxer said in a statement. "In addition, reports show the pipeline project will increase the price of gas, while the tar sands flowing through the pipeline will result in pollution that causes serious illnesses like asthma and increases in carbon pollution -- the main cause of climate change."
Elizabeth Warren has made a name for herself as a leading liberal voice within the Democratic party. For more on that, click here.
[Image via Politico]