Opinion

Rockefeller vote on pipeline wrong for W.Va.

An editorial from The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING, W.Va. — Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., has lost touch with his constituents – even with many of the Democrats who traditionally have supported him. That was made clear Tuesday when Rockefeller voted against allowing the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline to proceed.

President Barack Obama and fellow ultra-liberals have blocked permits for the pipeline for nearly six years. A few days ago, the House of Representatives passed a measure that would have allowed pipeline work to begin.

But on Tuesday, the bill lost in a procedural vote in the Senate. Sixty votes were needed for it to advance; the final tally was 59-41. So though an overwhelming majority of senators want the pipeline, 41 lawmakers were able to block it.

It is likely that within just weeks, all that will change. A new Senate, this one with Republicans in the majority, will convene on Jan. 3 or soon afterward. Proponents of the pipeline have every reason to believe the new Senate will approve it.

But lawmakers in both the House and Senate who favor a responsible national energy policy had hoped to get the pipeline moving sooner.

It was not just Republicans falling into that category Tuesday. Forty-five of them voted in favor of Keystone XL. They were joined by 14 Democrats, including Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

Manchin, obviously disappointed in the vote, pointed out the pipeline, by bringing Canadian oil to the United States, would lessen this country’s dependence on fuel from unreliable foreign sources. It also would create thousands of jobs.

And, though Obama insists he is concerned about the environment, exhaustive reviews to date have found no reason to worry about the pipeline for that reason.

Most West Virginians – with our coal industry and reasonably priced electricity under fire from the White House and other ultra-liberals – understand all that.

Rockefeller, who will retire within weeks, did not bother to explain his vote.

That may be because he understands the vast majority of West Virginians want the pipeline – and want our lawmakers to help make it a reality.

In siding with Obama and other ultra-liberals – instead of with the vast majority of his constituents, both Democrat and Republican – Rockefeller has abandoned the very people who sent him to Washington. It is a shame he chose that way to end his career.

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