Believe it or not, this is the opening sentence in a Washington Post story talking about the Keystone XL Pipeline:
The fact that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has fought so hard for the Keystone XL pipeline underscores the changing politics of oil: A global commodity has become a local issue.
“Fought so hard” for the Keystone XL pipeline? At what point during debate over the transportation bill did Montanans truly hear Sen. Baucus stand up and aggressively call on the President to approve the pipeline? He is, after all, the powerful chairman of the US Senate Finance Committee. We heard barely a whimper about supporting Keystone from Sen. Baucus while he served as a conferee on the House-Senate conference committee, and yet The Washington Post says he “fought so hard” for the pipeline.
Meanwhile, the Montana Headlines blog has a post regarding Montana Democrats that is headlined “Stuck Between Frack and a Hard Place.”
Author Brad Anderson added this note regarding Keystone and Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT):
Sen. Tester has been supportive but seems more muted. The financial politics of Senate races play a significant role here, one would think. Baucus, with his role as head of the powerful Finance Committee, has an endless stream of people and entities in the financial sector who are lining up to line his campaign’s pockets. Baucus doesn’t have to worry about money — he just needs to worry about votes, should Montanans (who overwhelmingly support the Keystone XL pipeline) decide they care more about energy development than about what Baucus’s seniority can do for the state.
Sen. Tester, on the other hand, is heavily dependent on the sort of bicoastal left-leaning fundraising that gave him an edge when he took on then Sen. Conrad Burns. At the same time, he also needs those votes. So Sen. Tester seems to be trying to navigate the shoals carefully — give enough support to the Keystone pipeline to satisfy Montana voters, while being quiet enough about it so as not to dry up his out-of-state funding sources. Whether out-of-state fundraising is playing a role in AG Bullock’s decision not to support Otter Creek is an interesting question for which there is not, as yet, an obvious answer.