Democratic senator calls Keystone pipeline 'the Kim Kardashian of energy'

Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampEffective and profitable climate solutions are within the nation's farms and forests Bill Maher blasts removal of journalist at Teen Vogue Centrist Democrats pose major problem for progressives MORE (D-N.D.) on Wednesday compared the hyperactive lobbying and political battle over the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline to tabloid press coverage of socialite and reality TV star Kim Kardashian.

“It’s the Kim Kardashian of energy,” Heitkamp said at a Washington, D.C., tax policy conference held by law firm BakerHostetler. “I don’t know why we care.”

Heitkamp is a fan of the pipeline — though clearly not of Kardashian.


Keystone would bring oil sands from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf Coast. It also would jar loose a bottleneck of shale oil shipments from the Bakken formation in her state.

The pipeline is under federal review as its builder waits for a final cross-border permit from the Obama administration.

Environmentalists and most Democrats are pushing President Obama and Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryBiden's climate policies: Adrift in economic and scientific fantasyland The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden expresses optimism on bipartisanship; Cheney ousted Watch live: John Kerry testifies on climate change MORE — whose department is working to complete an environmental review of the project — to scrap Keystone.

Green groups worry Keystone will accelerate production of carbon-dense oil sands, pumping more greenhouse gases into the air. They’re also concerned the pipeline and federal regulations governing energy infrastructure are not suited to handle oil sands.

Heitkamp, though, suggested that blocking Keystone would be worse for the environment than approving it.

She said that pipelines are the safest way to transport crude oil, alluding to the State Department’s findings that rail — or other pipelines — would bring oil sands to market in Keystone’s absence.

The pipeline’s supporters — which include Republicans, centrist Democrats, industry groups and some unions — say that means Obama should green light the project as a way to create jobs. 

They also say it would strengthen energy security by opening a valve to the nation’s northern neighbor, displacing oil from less-than-friendly Venezuela.