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Keystone Jeanne: A profile in weakness

For someone who claims to be a “leader” in the U.S. Senate on environmental issues, Jeanne Shaheen sure has been passive about one of the biggest environmental issues of the entire Obama administration: the Keystone XL pipeline. That changed last week only because one of her potential challengers, Scott Brown, called her out on it.

Last Wednesday, Brown asked Shaheen to join him in supporting the pipeline, which the Obama administration has delayed for years in a transparent and costly effort to placate environmental radicals who oppose any and all drilling, transportation and use of fossil fuels. Even though the pipeline was proposed during the Bush administration and has been one of the top environmental issues for years, Shaheen had never taken a position on it until last week, as far as we can tell.

There is no mention of the pipeline on her website or in any of the archived news releases we have from her office. This week we twice asked her office if she had ever taken a position on the pipeline, and the only response we got was a copy of the statement she released last week.

That statement reads as follows: “Senator Shaheen doesn’t think Congress should circumvent the regular approval process for the Keystone pipeline. She believes it would set a bad precedent for similar projects, like the potential proposal to reverse the Portland-Montreal pipeline which runs through New Hampshire. These projects should undergo a comprehensive environmental and safety review as required by law.”

Right. Still no position on the pipeline — even though it might soon be attached as an amendment to a bill she co-sponsored! Instead of leading on real issues, she pretends to lead by taking up smaller, less-controversial legislation, like her bill on energy conservation.

Co-sponsored with Republican Sen. Rob Portman, Shaheen’s bill has a nice title but would do little good. It would, for instance, subsidize manufacturers’ energy efficiency efforts, which they already have an economic incentive to undertake. And it would require home appraisers to boost a home’s value based on energy efficiency features regardless of whether those features affect the home’s market value, according to a Heritage Foundation summary of the bill. Didn’t we learn our lesson about manipulating the housing market for political reasons?

Some senators want to attach the Keystone pipeline to Shaheen’s energy efficiency bill as early as this week, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has hinted he might allow, and still she refuses to take a position on the pipeline. Call that what you want, but it is not leadership.


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