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Anti-Keystone PAC May Target Landrieu
The Louisiana Democratic senator is vulnerable to attack from the left.


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Andrew Stiles

A major reason why left-wing activists have failed to achieve the political clout of the Tea Party is their inability (or unwillingness, perhaps) to challenge Democratic incumbents they don’t entirely agree with.

A liberal billionaire may be about to change that. Tom Steyer, a California hedge-fund manager and major Democratic donor who was reportedly in the running to be Obama’s next energy secretary, has started a number of super PACs in support of candidates who favor an aggressive agenda to combat climate change.

One of those super PACs, NextGen Climate Action, is taking aim at lawmakers who support construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The group ran minute-long ads before and after the president’s State of the Union address, calling the pipeline “a sucker’s deal for America.”

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The group is currently asking supporters to choose the target of its next ad. Four of the five potential targets are Republicans, including Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, but the other is Senator Mary Landrieu (D., La.), a vulnerable incumbent who is typically more supportive of the oil industry than most of her Democratic colleagues. She is also next in line for the chairmanship of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Last year, Landrieu was one of 17 Democrats who cast a symbolic vote in favor of building the Keystone pipeline. At a press conference earlier this week, she said the time to build the pipeline “is now.”

“These are just a few of the elected officials and candidates who’ve been sold on the idea that the Keystone XL pipeline is a good deal for America,” the super PAC’s website states. “But when China has invested $30B in tar sands to secure oil for their own economy, it’s time for these politicians to ask the hard questions — we can’t let Americans get taken for a bunch of suckers.”

It remains to be seen whether Steyer’s PAC will actually spend any money against Landrieu. If it does, it would mark a considerable shift for Steyer, who has largely supported Democratic candidates while attacking Republicans. He spent almost $8 million, for example, backing Terry McAuliffe’s successful bid for governor of Virginia.

Landrieu may need all the help she can get to keep her seat. A Rasmussen poll conducted last month showed her trailing GOP opponent Bill Cassidy by four points. And unlike most Democrats running for reelection in red states, Landrieu has been unapologetic in her continued support for Obamacare, even saying that she would vote for it again. President Obama’s approval rating in Louisiana is just 40 percent, according to Gallup.

Some Republicans, however, are not convinced that Landrieu deserves her reputation as a pro-oil candidate. “Mr. Steyer’s targeting of Senator Landrieu is actually pretty peculiar. While she claims she is a pro-drilling Democrat — if there is such a thing — her super PAC gave $380,000 to anti-energy Democrats across the U.S., from Senator Barbara Boxer to Senator Dick Durbin,” says a Louisiana Republican strategist. “Senator Landrieu has demonstrated that she’s more concerned with maintaining a far-left Democrat majority in the Senate than fighting for good-paying jobs for the people of Louisiana.”

— Andrew Stiles is a political reporter for National Review Online.


Keystone XL Pipeline
With the political fight over the Keystone XL pipeline still raging, here’s a look at the controversial project, and some scenes along other sections of the pipeline.
First proposed in 2008, the 1,179-mile Keystone XL pipeline is part of a larger network that would connect oil deposits in Alberta, Canada, with refinery facilities on the Gulf Coast of Texas.
A map shows the proposed route of the Keystone XL section (dotted blue line) from Steele City, Neb., through South Dakota and Montana and on to Alberta. (Map: TransCanada)
While other sections of the system have been built — including lines in Texas and Oklahoma — the Keystone XL portion linking Steele City, Neb. to Alberta is stalled pending federal approval. Pictured, Pipeline intended for the Keystone project in a field neat Gascoyne, N.D. in April, 2013.
Republican support for the Keystone XL project has emphasized the jobs it will create in construction and operation and the need to bring more energy resources online. Pictured, House speaker John Boehner (left) and House majority whip Eric Cantor at a news conference on the pipeline in January 2012.
An array of environmental groups have lobbied the Obama administration, so far successfully, to prevent approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, citing concerns over local environmental impact and long-term climate change. Pictured, demonstrators rally in Washington, D.C., in July, 2013.
Despite a positive environmental report recently issued by the State Department, the Obama administration has indicated it will await further review by other agencies before making a final decision. Pictured, President Obama visits a site along the southern portion of the pipeline in Cushing, Okla., in March, 2012.
A protest sign sits in a field near Bradshaw, Neb., along the proposed path of the Keystone XL pipeline in March, 2013.
Construction of the 485-mile Gulf Coast pipeline from Cushing, Okla., to Nederland, Texas, began in August, 2012, with oil flowing as of late January, 2014. Pictured, construction work east of Winona, Texas, in December, 2012
Sections of pipe await construction crews in Sumner, Texas, in 2012.
A worker walks a section of pipeline during construction in Sumner, Texas.
A worker inspects a segment of the pipeline near Stroud, Okla.
Pipefitters work in a trench on the pipeline’s southern route near Tulsa, Okla.
A construction worker carries equipment at a section of the pipeline, in Atoka, Okla., in March, 2013.
Pipe sections wait in a field near Ripley, Okla.
Keystone project pipe sections in Cushing, Okla., in March, 2012
Sections of pipe sit in Little Rock, Ark., in May, 2012.
Updated: Feb. 05, 2014

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