American Elephants

Tom Steyer Blew $74 Million On Fighting A Pipeline. by The Elephant's Child


Tom Steyer became a billionaire by investing in fossil fuels. Now he is betting against them, and blew at least $74 million trying to persuade the voters to oppose Republicans who disagree with him about the Keystone XL pipeline. He opposes the pipeline, he opposes oil sands from Alberta, and apparently would prefer to see Alberta’s oil sent to market by rail. Rail, of course, is far more dangerous and subject to oil spills than a pipeline — pipelines have an excellent safety record.

Well, proof, once again, that money doesn’t buy elections. Mr. Steyer and the teacher’s unions wasted far more money than most. Mr. Steyer gave most of his money to his NextGen Climate Action Super PAC. Environmental groups including NextGen spent $85 million to support President Obama’s agenda, especially the regulations for “bankrupting coal.” They are not taking the defeat well. Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune  whined:

Despite the climate movement’s significant investments and an unprecedented get out the vote program, strong voices for climate action were defeated and candidates paid for by corporate interests and bolstered by sinister voter suppression tactics won the day.

Mitch McConnell made opposition to “the war on coal” the centerpiece of his campaign, and won what was supposed to be a close election by 15 points. Shelley Moore Capito’s support for coal made her the first female GOP Senator in 55 years from West Virginia.

Mr. Steyer and the greens made opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline a litmus test of their support for Democrats, and Mr. Obama dutifully delayed approving the pipeline, despite multiple government reports showing no effect on the climate whatsoever from the pipeline.

In his statement to reporters following the election, Mr. Obama once again went off on “infrastructure and roads and bridges” suggesting that nasty Republicans wouldn’t support those opportunities for creating good jobs for unemployed Americans struggling to join the middle class. That has been Obama’s constant refrain repeated endlessly since 2009. Hello? An oil pipeline guaranteeing  something like 20,000 jobs IS infrastructure.

Republicans are promising to push pro-fossil-fuel  energy policy in Congress, including support for the Keystone XL,  fast-track approval for liquid natural-gas-export terminals, and reining in anti-coal regulations. Democrats might want to help create jobs, and perhaps save their own. Principle works better than falling all over yourself when a billionaire promises money.

If these environmental zealots would spend as much time studying up on the science of energy as they do on trying to buy politicians, they would save a fair amount of cash.

2 Comments so far
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20,000 jobs is a joke! There will be some temporary contruction jobs for a couple of years to build it, but the whole point of a pipeline is for a more economic way to transport it. How many rail jobs will be lost? What are these folks going to do on a pipeline that does not need so many operators to run it. We sure do not have enough inspectors at the PHMSA – will that government agency hire more? This is an agency responsible for oversight. Just the top two pipeline leaks in 2013 equal all of the oil spilled by rail. Pipelines leak and when they do – they leak a lot more oil. At least with rail or barge tranpsport, you know exactly how much oil leaks. how fast are pipelines shutdown when they leak? Who is responsible for leak?
The railroads will still have their business. The oil industry wants as big of a distribution network as possible with as many options as possible.
Let’s make the oil companies richer and let them drill and frack all the oil in the world possible so that we can pollute our world more. Let the Chinese or some other country develop the alternative fuels that will bankrupt the oil companies.

You proponents are so short sighted!


Comment by Mike Fred

The 20,000 jobs figure comes directly from TransCanada. published in Canada’s Financial Post in an article in which they enumerated exactly what each job was. They also spelled out the jobs involved in materials, steel pipes and such. There are offshoot jobs in the services needed by the pipeline workers.You may be unaware that many of the job increases that Obama brags about are temporary jobs, not only temporary holiday jobs, but the business temp industry, which businesses use to avoid new hires. Some rail jobs may be lost, but those are completely offset by lives saved. Oil trains have killed a lot of people. Look it up. The new materials needed will likely be transported by train. Pipelines are infinitely safer than oil trains, and spills are rare and small. We have 2.3 million miles of pipelines in the U.S. already with a sterling record for safety.

The whole point of the pipeline is not for a cheaper way to transport oil, but for a safer and more efficient way. The Keystone XL has been approved by the State Department (it crosses national borders) twice. It has been re-routed to allay some tribal objections. It has been approved by the state of Nebraska. Obama tried to claim that it benefitted only Canada because it trans ported Canadian oil, but that is false because it would transport oil from the Dakotas as well.

Aside from all that, you are wrong about oil polluting the world. Our economy is powered by fossil fuels, including natural gas. There are no alternative fuels.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

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