As climate protests dominate headlines, Gardner champions Keystone oil pipeline

[dropcap]C[/dropcap]olorado Congressman and candidate for U.S. Senate Cory Gardner delivered this week’s Republican Party address. He is one of the swing-state candidates on whom the party is pinning hopes of winning a majority in the upper chamber of Congress this November.

The topic of the speech, posted on Friday, will come as no surprise to Coloradans who have followed Gardner’s career, but it registers as deeply out of synch this weekend. At the heart of the six-minute talk, Gardner admonishes President Obama and Democratic members of Congress for delaying construction of the TransCanada Keystone oil pipeline.

“President Obama and his allies in Congress have forgotten that they were elected to represent all Americans,” Gardner says. “They have lost their way and lined up with special interest actions that have blocked jobs, hurt the poor, sold out the most vulnerable amongst us, and have left too many behind…

“Just yesterday, the Keystone Pipeline delay turned six years old. Thanks to the President’s inaction, we are no closer to building the pipeline today than we were six years ago.

“As a result, thousands of Americans are missing out on the good paying jobs the pipeline would create.”

Gardner’s speech comes as 400,000 people gathered in New York City and millions more in the cities of 158 countries around the world to protest political paralysis in the face of climate change and to underline the fact that whole populations in many poor island and coastal nations are suffering and will suffer the greatest losses in a world where greenhouse gasses go unchecked, where lives and property are lost due to drought and rising sea levels.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that, in solidarity with the climate movement, 180 institutions in the United States — philanthropies, religious organizations, pension funds, local governments and Rockefeller family heirs of the 20th-century Standard Oil fortune — announced plans to divest $51 billion in assets tied to fossil fuel companies and investing instead in the renewable energy industry.

Analysts have called the “dirty oil” Canadian tar sands project that would feed the Keystone pipeline among the most heavily polluting, carbon-intensive fuel sources on the planet.

The assertion Gardner makes that the pipeline would “create thousands of good-paying jobs” is a standard among Republican lawmakers who support the project but the statement was classified as a partial truth years ago. The project would create temporary jobs during the brief phase of its construction, the State Department reported, but it would require only 50 workers to operate it once construction was completed.

Rep. Gardner has long been a champion in Congress of the oil industry. He consistently has voted for tax breaks for oil companies. He has sponsored a bill to open up the arctic seas to oil drilling. The bulk of his campaign contributions for years have come from the oil-and-gas industry. His wife Jaime has worked as an oil industry PR agent. And Gardner has benefitted this year from millions of dollars in campaign ads purchased by oil-billionaires Charles and David Koch, heads of privately owned Koch Industries.

A tape leaked this summer of Gardner at a Koch gathering in Southern California asking wealthy attendees to support his campaign for the Senate.

A report released last October by the International Forum on Globalization found that the pipeline could generate billions in profits for the Koch brothers. According to the report, their company holds roughly 2 million acres of land in Alberta Canada, where the pipeline is planned to start. The brothers have given about $50 million to think tanks and members of Congress who have pushed for the pipeline to be built.


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