Billionaire Tom Steyer is facing an inconvenient truth: poll after poll has shown that an overwhelming majority of the American public supports Keystone XL – and as of late, that includes increasingly more Democrats and liberals. From former top Obama administration officials to Democrats in the Senate; from labor unions to MSNBC personalities, Democratic support for Keystone XL continues to grow.
So, what do you do when you’re clearly on the losing side in your own party? You pay for your own poll that asks misleading questions designed to get the results you want. Then you double down on your party by announcing the poll results at a briefing for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) before heading off to a fundraiser in San Francisco tonight to raise money to hit Keystone XL supporters in the 2014 elections.
But as many news outlets have reported, Steyer will likely receive the cold shoulder from his Democratic colleagues today. The Wall Street Journal reported, “In private, administration and party officials grumble about Mr. Steyer’s activism, in particular his attacks on some Democrats” especially as the Democratic Senate majority hangs in the balance.
Remember, Steyer announced last week that he intends to target a number of pro-Keystone XL Democrats up for reelection, notably Senator Landrieu of Louisiana. But as Landrieu rightly said, a campaign targeting her for supporting Keystone XL, in a strong oil and gas state like Louisiana, would probably help her. Also noteworthy is that Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), the head of the DSCC, is on record supporting Keystone XL so he may not be too enthusiastic about Steyer’s election plans.
Steyer’s Plans for a Deceptive Poll
According to numerous media outlets, Tom Steyer’s poll asks questions of people based on the assumption that the oil from Keystone XL would be exported to China. In other words, the entire poll is based on a false premise. As the State Department confirmed again in its Final Environmental Impact Statement, Keystone XL will not be an export pipeline:
“Once WCSB crude oil arrives at the Gulf Coast, Gulf Coast refiners have a significant competitive advantage in processing it compared to foreign refiners because the foreign refiners would have to incur additional transportation charges to have the crude oil delivered from the Gulf Coast to their location. The pipeline or rail-delivered crude oil would compete with seaborne crude from elsewhere that has already undergone costs of loading onto seagoing tankers and may be delivered to other countries more competitively.” (1.4-140)
Of course Steyer has tried this stunt before and has been called out for twisting the facts. Just last month, the Washington Post Fact-Checker found that Steyer’s television ad claiming Keystone XL would be an export pipeline was worthy of “Four Pinocchio’s.” As the Fact-Checker put it, “this ad does not even meet the minimal standards for such political attack ads. It relies on speculation, not facts, to make insinuations and assertions not justified by the reality.”
That isn’t the first time Steyer has been criticized for this export claim. Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker called one of Tom Steyer’s previous anti-Keystone XL ads a “stunt” and good “political theater,” but adds that “as a lesson in global-oil economics, the ad lacked context.”
Despite spending millions for his cause Steyer is clearly losing: poll after poll after poll has shown that the American people are saying yes to Keystone XL. Opponents are hoping that former Secretary of Energy Steven Chu is correct – that Obama is basing his decision on politics, not substance. They don’t have the facts on their side so politics is their only game.
Now the question is: will President Obama stand with a billionaire activist who doesn’t even have the support of his own party over the overwhelming bipartisan majority of Americans who support Keystone XL?
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