Opinion: One vote too short

Jennifer Hutchinson is a sophomore political science major and a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]

Jennifer Hutchinson

One more vote was all they needed. Republicans did not get the 60 votes necessary in order to approve the Keystone Pipeline. The vote was, however, a victory for environmental activists who have turned the defeat of the pipeline into one of the central symbolic causes of their movement.

Republicans aren’t going quietly though.

They vowed to return to the fight next year, when they will control the majority of both the House and Senate. Republicans weren’t the only ones feeling defeated by the lack of votes though. On a 59 to 41 roll call, Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu’s campaign fell one vote shy of passing legislation meant to force President Obama to approve the pipeline.

All 45 Republicans supported the 1,700-mile, $7.6 billion project, which would deliver 830,000 barrels of oil a day from western Canada to the American heartland. With just 14 Democrats backing it, however, Landrieu’s bill fell victim to a filibuster by her own party. Landrieu hoped that her Keystone campaign would demonstrate her work in Washington, as well as and her distance from a very unpopular Obama.

In a state like Louisiana, which is dominated by energy interests, an approval of the Keystone Pipeline was her shot in showing her influence in Washington. Her chances now of reelection are slimmer than ever before. In rejecting the bill, the Senate has granted Obama a temporary reprieve from a difficult decision: whether to side with the environmentalists who have been his staunch allies or with many moderate Democrats who hope to use the issue to win over swing voters.

This decision has been going on for six years. The new pipeline would lead to more efficient delivery of oil into domestic markets, helping secure a reliable source of energy, boosting the national economy and creating jobs tied to the pipeline’s construction. While it was close, close isn’t enough. Hopefully, in the coming years the Keystone Pipeline can receive its long-awaited approval.