Keystone politics comes to Virginia
The Keystone XL pipeline project is a hot topic in Washington. A debate filled with claims of enormous promise, scary consequences and just about everything in between. Candidates have lined up on either side of the debate and even though the proposed project would take place hundreds of miles away from Virginia, it is becoming a big issue here.
Senate candidate George Allen is using Keystone and President Barack Obama‘s decision to turn down the project, as a way to corner his likely opponent Tim Kaine. Allen accuses Kaine of supporting Obama’s decision and claims it is an example of Kaine putting his tight relationship with President Obama ahead of the job concerns of his would-be constituents.
Allen’s campaign emphasised that point by releasing this devastating web video:
Allen fully supports the Keystone XL project and has worked hard to highlight Kaine’s uncertainty on the issue. Their goal is to make it appear that Kaine won’t make a move without making sure it is okay first with the president.
But Kaine forcefully defended his Keystone position and accused Allen of taking an hypocritical approach to the project. The Kaine team pointed out that while Allen has pushed for approval of the Keystone project, he has taken a rather tepid approach to the issue of expanding uranium mining in Virginia. Allen has said that Virginia needs to be certain of enviornmental and health concerns before moving forward on uranium.
The Kaine team pointed to a critical Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial that compares the approach of Virginia republicans to uranium to the president’s approach to Keystone. Just as Allen has tied Kaine to Obama, Kaine is working to tie his potential opponent to the massive oil companies that could benefit from a project like Keystone.
“George Allen had the chance to prove that he’d be an independent voice for the Commonwealth and the nation,” said Kaine communications director Brandi Hoffine. “Instead he’s proven that, if reelected to the U.S. Senate, he’ll continue to be a rubber stamp for oil companies who do not need his help to turn a profit.”
While the Keystone project has now become nothing more than a political talking point, Senator Mark Warner, a democrat and an ally of Kaine believes the White House should consider revisiting the concept.
“I think it should come up again,” Warner said in an interview on First at 4.
Warner believes that the cautious approach to Keystone was the right one and if handled correctly, it could solve a major U.S. problem.
“I think we very much need an ‘all of the above’ approach to energy,” he said. “Use our natural resources, promote renewables, use nuclear, but we have to make sure we get off of that mideast oil, and this would’ve taken us in that direction.”
But much like Kaine who chided republicans in Washington from turning the deliberative process of Keystone into a political issue, Warner believed the president was put in a difficult position. “I do think it was a bit of a ‘gotcha’ by forcing the president to decide very quickly,” Warner said.
Kaine has also encouraged the Obama adminstration to revisit the project.
Meanwhile the project is dead in the water, but the political fight is just beginning.