Udall won’t bow to pressure, will vote no on Keystone XL next week

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colorado, talks to FOX31 Denver in April about his reelection campaign and the challenge presented by Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma.

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colorado, talks to FOX31 Denver in April about his reelection campaign and the challenge presented by Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma.

DENVER — Colorado Sen. Mark Udall is sticking to his script when it comes to the Keystone XL pipeline, a script that gives lip service to both sides but doesn’t take a position for or against construction of the pipeline.

Udall, a Democrat facing a very difficult reelection battle this fall, is under intense pressure to take a clearer position on Keystone.

And he’s about to have a chance to do so when the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee votes on legislation to approve the pipeline next week.

But Udall won’t be voting yes, or changing his previously stated position much at all.

“If the Keystone XL pipeline were being routed through our state, Coloradans would want to know the decision was being made on the merits — and not congressional meddling,” said Udall’s spokesman, Mike Saccone.

“That’s why Sen. Udall intends to again reject the notion that lawmakers know better than the engineers, scientists and experts whose responsibility it is to evaluate the pipeline application on its merits.”

It’s the same stance Udall has taken all along, leaving himself room to eventually vote yes on the pipeline but holding firm to his position that he won’t do so until after an official review process is complete, which likely won’t be until after November’s election.

“Less than a week after claiming he was ‘frustrated’ by the delay of a project that will create jobs and lower the cost of energy, Sen. Udall is again refusing to lead in the Senate,” campaign spokesman Alex Siciliano said. “Coloradans will watch with disappointment as Sen. Udall casts his fourth vote against the Keystone XL Pipeline, and the jobs and economic growth it would create.

“Sen. Udall should follow the lead of others in his party and insist that both leaders, Republican and Democrat, bring this measure to the floor.”

Udall, who is getting financial help from California billionaire climate change activist Tom Steyer, is considered a strong conservationist but has also looked for ways to demonstrate his commitment to natural gas.

While Republicans continue to hammer Udall over what they’re terming his “Keystone headache”, Udall seems to believe that approving the pipeline is not the political winner in Colorado that it is in deeply Republican Louisiana, home to Sen. Mary Landrieu, the committee chairwoman who’s called the vote, in part, to demonstrate her commitment to the industry and the power she holds in her position.

That said, recent polls have shown 66 percent of Coloradans support construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.