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Stacks of pipe are stored at the pipe yard for the Houston Lateral Project, a component of the Keystone pipeline system in Houston, Texas March 5, 2014 file photo. (REUTERS/Rick Wilking) Stacks of pipe are stored at the pipe yard for the Houston Lateral Project, a component of the Keystone pipeline system in Houston, Texas March 5, 2014 file photo. (REUTERS/Rick Wilking)  

Dems demand action on Keystone pipeline, Udall mum

Greg Campbell
Contributor

Colorado Sen. Mark Udall is conspicuously absent from a letter signed by 11 other Democrats — five of whom are facing tough reelection challenges — demanding that President Obama make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline by the end of May.

The letter encourages him to approve the project.

“This process has been exhaustive in its time, breadth, and scope,” they wrote, according to the Wall Street Journal. “It has already taken much longer than anyone can reasonably justify. This is an international project that will provide our great friend and ally Canada, a direct route to our refineries.”

A recent study by the state department found that the pipeline would not significantly contribute to greenhouse gases, which was Obama’s concern.

Democratic pollsters Hickman Analytics recently found that 66 percent of Colorado voters approved of the project, including 43 percent of Udall supporters (with 39 percent of his supporters opposed).

But Udall is alone among Democratic senators up for reelection who haven’t publicly supported the pipeline. He voted against the measure last year on a non-binding measure, saying he disapproved of the politics that were injected into the debate.

A Udall spokesman told the Wall Street Journal that’s why he also didn’t want to sign the letter, which was signed by Democratic senators in other tight contests in North Carolina, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alaska and Virginia.

“Sen. Udall still believes Congress should not be injecting politics into this process,” spokesman Mike Saccone told the newspaper.

Udall is facing a tough onslaught from Rep. Cory Gardner, the presumptive Republican nominee who announced this week that he raised $1.4 million to challenge the incumbent. Gardner has intensified his efforts on energy issues, calling on Udall to denounce efforts to ban fracking in Colorado, which could severely impact jobs and the economy.

“Our citizens count on their elected officials to stand up for their way of life and improve economic opportunity,” said Colorado Rep. Scott Tipton in a Gardner campaign press release.
“Senator Udall should crawl out of the anti-energy lobby’s back pocket and stand with Cory and me, opposing this ban on hydraulic fracturing.”

Gardner’s campaign said Udall has been “attempting to distort” his record on energy issues, with Udall recently calling himself a “champion for Colorado’s natural gas industry” when calling for a speedier process for approving exports of liquefied natural gas.

But Udall is also seeking support from billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer, who pledged $100,000 to candidates who will make climate change a top election issue. Steyer hosted Udall and others at his home in San Francisco in February for a fundraiser to benefit the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which is chaired by Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet.

Bennet also did not sign the letter to Obama.

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