Havre Daily News: Sen. Tester talks tough topics

Wrapping up the first, and eventful, month in another election year, Sen. Jon Tester spent Thursday morning on the horn with reporters back in Big Sky Country, to talk about Keystone XL Pipeline, recent Citizens United-related talks, the State of the Union address, and many other topics on his mind and voters’ minds back home.

Keystone XL Pipeline

Tester expressed once again his disappointment in President Barack Obama’s decision to reject the most recent bid to construct a 2,000-mile oil pipe from Canada to Texas.

“I’ve long supported building this pipeline as long as private property rights and safety measures are in place, ” Tester said.

He refuted a claim that the denial was ideological and added that he feels confident that it will be approved eventually, once certain issues, such as avoiding the Nebraska aquifer, are resolved. The jobs, he said, are just too important.

“I think it’s better to do business with Canada than the Middle East, and we’re going to do business with one of them, ” Tester said. “I think this is going to be built, and I think the sooner the better. ”

Environmental concerns about the pipeline, according to Tester, are understandable but unrealistic.

“Getting off fossil fuels would be great, but that won’t happen for a long, long time, ” Tester said. “Whether you like it or not, it’s a fact. ”

Citizen’s United

The Montana Supreme Court won Tester’s support with its decision to overturn the U. S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which allowed corporations unprecedented influence in elections by opening unrestricted donations.

“The bottom line is if you think a corporation should get the same rights as a person or more rights, you’ll be happy with (the U. S. Supreme Court decision), ” Tester said. “On the other hand, if you think corporations are corporations and not people, then we need to get the power back into the hands of the people.

“The Supreme Court overturned 100 years of precedent here. ”

As far as the ability to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision nation-wide, Tester was skeptical that such a change is possible right now.

“I don’t think we’ll get to the point where we get two-thirds of the House and Senate to agree and then three-quarters of the state legislatures to agree, ” Tester said. “We couldn’t even get the full disclosure (of financial contributions) passed and that was an obvious slam dunk, I thought. ”

He added that he’s already seen some effects of the Citizens United ruling in his own campaign.

“They’ve already dropped in one million bucks, ” Tester said. “It’s not about how good I am or my opponent is.

“It’s been about what a bad guy I am and, in fact, we’ve had one (ad funded by corporate contributions) pulled off TV because it was a blatant lie. ”

Looking on the bright side of free-flowing campaign funds, Tester added, “it’s going to create some jobs in Montana or at least make some TV stations rich. ”

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