A Delaware Democrat said Tuesday he now opposes the Keystone XL pipeline because Republican lawmakers did not follow through on promises to support green energy.
Sen. Tom Carper told reporters that his support for the multi-state project was directly predicated on various Republican promises to support geothermal energy and wind power, and their willingness to keep their promises.
“My hope was that, if I’m willing to meet you halfway on Keystone, you need to meet me halfway as well on a variety of other areas involving sustainable energy and clean energy,” Carper told reporters about his initial decision supporting the pipeline. Republicans unwillingness to play ball was “deeply disappointing,” he said, and ultimately prompted the change of heart.
He voted for legislation in 2014 to pass the contentious pipeline, even though the long-time Democrat has a record of supporting action to fight climate change and green energy technology.
Carper noted at the time of his vote that Keystone had become an issue dividing Democrats and Republicans on several policy questions not connected to the environment. The divide prompted him to take a leap in hopes Republican would return the favor.
“My hope is that my willingness to show some flexibility at this point in time will be reciprocated by the Republicans in a new majority when the time comes to address clean-air issues,” said Carper, who is the top-ranked member on the Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works.
The senator’s position does not square with those of the environmentalists in the so-called “keep it in the ground” movement. Many activists who oppose the $8 billion oil line do so because they consider it a moral issue. They believe it violates landowners’ private property rights and hurts the environment.
Environmentalists have promised to “raise hell” and recruit millions of people to fight the massive oil line. Activists also intend to bring the fight directly to lawmakers at town hall meetings along the project’s route.
TransCanada, the Canadian company behind the project, encountered fierce opposition from landowners and activists during its initial proposed route, and successive legal challenges over the legality of maneuvering around plots of land eventually brought the project to a standstill.
President Donald Trump signed a pair of executive orders in February approving both Keystone and the Dakota Access Pipeline, a multi-state project moving Bakken oil from the Dakotas to Illinois. The president’s decision essentially overturned former President Barack Obama’s move to scuttle the pipeline in 2015.