Bennet emails in his Keystone vote explanation

Here is the email I got from Michael Bennet’s office regarding his Keystone and Veto override votes.  Did he convince you that he did it for good environmental and climate reasons?


Thank you for contacting my office regarding the Keystone XL oil pipeline. I appreciate hearing from you.

As you know, Canadian energy company TransCanada submitted a 2008 application to the U.S. State Department for a permit to build and to operate the Keystone XL oil pipeline. If permitted, the proposed pipeline would stretch 1,661 miles from Hardisty, Alberta, to Port Arthur, Texas and would carry up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day.

President Obama’s State Department released a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) evaluating the project on January 31, 2014.  This document contains new and updated technical information regarding the potential environmental impacts related to the Keystone XL pipeline.  Among the findings from the State Department report was an observation that blocking the pipeline’s construction is, “unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the Canadian oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States.”  In other words, the tar sands in Canada are going to be developed to meet the global need for oil whether or not Keystone XL is built.

Following the release of the EIS, opponents of the pipeline criticized the State Department analysis as flawed because of a perceived conflict of interest involving a contractor who worked on the report.  The State Department’s Inspector General investigated these claims and subsequently dismissed them.  The Inspector general found on February 26, 2014 that, in hiring of the contractor in question, State “substantially followed its prescribed guidance and at times was more rigorous than that guidance.”

On January 29th, 2015, with the EIS and Inspector General report completed, I supported a measure, S. 1, that would authorize construction of the pipeline. This legislation passed the Senate on a 62-36 vote. On February 24th, 2015, President Obama vetoed S.1 and returned the legislation to Congress. On March 4th, 2015, I voted to overturn the veto and pass the original legislation. The veto was sustained on a 62-37 vote. 

In advance of this vote I heard from hundreds of Coloradans – both supportive of and opposed to the pipeline. Pipeline opponents are largely concerned that the line’s construction will facilitate expansion of tar sands development in Canada, and will lead to increases in the carbon pollution associated with that development. While I am a firm believer that we need to take aggressive steps to dramatically reduce carbon pollution that causes global warming, most experts – including the State Department and several former environmental officials from the Obama Administration – agree that blocking the Keystone XL pipeline will have little bearing on whether the tar sands oil deposits are developed.

Instead, these energy experts point to the President’s Climate Action Plan – a plan I have repeatedly supported in public statements and through my voting record in the Senate – as the truly consequential fight in Congress over whether our nation will begin to address carbon pollution. Between increasing vehicle efficiency standards and addressing emissions from power plants, the President’s plan is expected, according to a New York Times analysis, to cut more than 1 billion tons of carbon annually when fully implemented. Compare that figure to the estimated emissions associated with Keystone (an increase of 18.7 million tons of carbon over the same quantity of oil produced domestically), and the Times found that the President’s plan is likely more than 50 times more important than Keystone from a climate perspective.

Whether or not you agree with the New York Times‘ conclusions, the numbers underpinning that analysis would suggest that Keystone XL does not deserve the attention it has received in our domestic fight against climate change. Instead – we should be focused on achieving steep reductions in carbon pollution from vehicles and power plants. And in this case, the numbers really matter. If we choose not to accept the math about emissions figures, then we lose credibility when we argue with those who want to misrepresent or ignore the science we’ve used to argue for action in the first place.

While it would’ve been my strong preference to vote on Keystone XL in the context of a comprehensive energy bill that slashed emissions and dramatically increased renewable energy, we were tasked with voting on it in isolation. Congress and the country need to move past this political fight over Keystone XL and instead focus on supporting the President’s ambitious climate regulations. We should also start a real debate about a proactive and forward-looking carbon plan that covers the entire economy, not just vehicles and power plants. I’m particularly interested in a carbon tax on all fossil fuels as an elegant and market-based solution to address climate change. In fact, I voted to consider a carbon tax as part of last Congress’s budget bill.

Finally, and from a parochial standpoint, I am glad that Keystone XL is related to the development of new resources from Canada, and not the oil shale underlying water-scarce Western Colorado. I’d rather we diversify the regions that provide our energy than see places like the Thompson Divide near Carbondale, the North Fork Valley of the Gunnison River, or the backyards of our state’s Front Range communities become drilled-out sacrifice zones because we shut off our other energy options.

I’m a firm believer that some places are too special to drill – that’s why I’m against drilling in places like Red Rock country in southern Utah, the Arctic Refuge in Alaska, and a variety of wild places in Colorado. However I’m also a believer that a pragmatic and sober minded decision maker can’t in good conscience be “against” everything because the transition away from fossil fuels cannot occur overnight.

It is for the reasons outlined above that I cast my vote in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline. While I know your perspectives may diverge on the matter, I want to sincerely thank you for reaching out to my office and for your willingness to engage in a constructive conversation. I assure you that I will keep your perspective in mind as I continue to advocate for a forward-looking energy policy. I hope you will stay in touch on this, and other issues, of interest to you and the State of Colorado.

I value the input of fellow Coloradans in considering the wide variety of important issues and legislative initiatives that come before the Senate. I hope you will continue to inform me of your thoughts and concerns.

For more information about my priorities as a U.S. Senator, I invite you to visit my website at Again, thank you for contacting me.


Michael F. Bennet
United States Senator

6 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. mountain grammy says:

    I got the exact same email… we have to have tar sands so we won’t drill elsewhere. some logic there, Senator Bennet.. 

  2. dustpuppy says:

    Polis should primary the moron.  It is to Polis’ credit that “Tehran Tom” was born for Tom Cotton of Arkansas.

  3. Duke Cox says:

    Finally, and from a parochial standpoint, I am glad that Keystone XL is related to the development of new resources from Canada, and not the oil shale underlying water-scarce Western Colorado. I’d rather we diversify the regions that provide our energy than see places like the Thompson Divide near Carbondale, the North Fork Valley of the Gunnison River, or the backyards of our state’s Front Range communities become drilled-out sacrifice zones because we shut off our other energy options.

    Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit….nothing more.

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      “I am glad that we’re ramping up Senate efforts to create a situation necessitating war with Iran.  I’d rather we obliterate the bejueezus out of Tehran than see us drop bombs on Fiji, New Zealand, Sweeden, or even the backyards of our state’s asshats in El Paso County.” 

      I will never, never, never, never, ever vote for this tool again!

      • BlueCat says:

        I’ll have to because I can only imagine what crazy ass R will be the only viable alternative. Ditto with HRC. Love how, even when she says she realizes she made a mistake, she manages to sound annoyed with anyone who dares question her judgement. Nothing is ever really any Clinton’s fault and anyone who dares to suggest the slightest degree of responsibility on their part for anything going south goes on their enemies list and stays there forever. A lovely vengeful power couple.  But l think I’ll call Bennet’s office to relay my sarcastic thanks that at least he didn’t join the 47 morons and sign that letter. Nice to back off the back stabbing of his own president at least that much.

  4. mamajama55 says:

    Bennet’s real reasons are detailed in this excellent Colorado Independent investigative piece by Bob Berwyn. 

    Excerpts from Berwyn’s article:

    Bennet didn’t just vote for the bill. He also voted with Republicans against a series of amendments brought by Democrats looking to use the bill to shore up environmental protections.

    Breaking it down by party, the nine Democrats who voted for the pipeline bill received significantly more from the industry than their party colleagues. On average, Democrats who voted for the bill received $140,193 from the oil and gas industry, while those who voted no, received just $82,595.

    The oil and gas industry has donated a total of about $180,000 to Sen. Bennet during his political career, while Sen. Cory Gardner’s campaign coffers have been stuffed to brimming with more than $1 million worth of oil and gas money, according to’s tracker.

    But, in the end, the thing to note is that the Keystone vote, doesn’t mean much, Saunders said, referring to Obama’s promised veto of any pipeline bill.

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