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Anna E.
Democrat CA 18

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  • Keystone XL Pipeline Act

    by Representative Anna G. Eshoo

    Posted on 2015-01-09

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    ESHOO of california in the house of representatives Friday, January 9, 2015 Ms. ESHOO. Mr. Speaker, today the House will vote for the tenth time to bypass a process established by law and instead, move to approve an oil pipeline that will harm the climate, do nothing to enhance our energy security, and create 35 permanent jobs. In the process, the legislation before us disregards the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the more than 2.5 million Americans who submitted comments to the State Department on the Keystone XL pipeline proposal.

    Keystone XL is a proposed 2,000-mile pipeline to carry up to 830,000 barrels per day of tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast. Because the pipeline crosses the U.S.-Canadian border, existing law requires that a Presidential Permit be obtained to ensure that the project is in the interest of the United States. TransCanada, the Canadian company planning to build the pipeline, was initially denied a Presidential Permit in early 2012. The company then split the project into two sections and reapplied for a Presidential Permit for the 1,200-mile section of pipeline from Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska. This section has undergone an environmental review process and the State Department is currently reviewing the public comments to determine if the project is in the national interest. This bill ends that review and deems the project immediately approved.

    As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, I have participated in the hearings on this issue since 2011, and it is clear to me that Keystone XL is not in the nation's interest. It will provide an export route for one of the dirtiest fuels on earth, putting the U.S. at risk of a spill and unleashing billions of tons of future greenhouse gas emissions. Beyond the environmental impacts, TransCanada has acknowledged that this project will create very few permanent U.S. jobs and that most of the oil will be exported overseas rather than remaining in the U.S. market. In my view, this is a bad deal for the American people and should not be given a special legislative exemption in the form of this bill.

    Construction of Keystone XL is also incompatible with our long-term climate goals and would put millions of Americans at risk of a catastrophic oil spill. Tar sands oil produces up to 40 percent more carbon pollution than conventional oil on a life-cycle basis and is much harder to clean up in the event of a spill. In Michigan, a 2010 tar sands oil spill in the Kalamazoo River took over four years to clean up at a cost of over $1.2 billion.

    Despite claims from its backers, Keystone XL will not improve U.S. energy security or reduce our dependence on oil from the Middle East. A study commissioned by the Department of Energy found that U.S. oil imports from Canada will grow at ``almost identical'' rates with or without Keystone XL. The State Department's review of the Keystone XL proposal estimated that a majority of the oil that travels through the pipeline will be exported overseas. In fact, contrary to the company's claims in promotional materials, TransCanada has refused to guarantee that any of the oil will remain in the U.S. In 2011, I participated in an Energy and Commerce Committee hearing where TransCanada's President of Energy and Oil pipelines, Alex Pourbaix, acknowledged under questioning that his company was not willing to guarantee in law or in shipping contracts that oil from Keystone XL will remain in the U.S. market. Several attempts to insert language ensuring that a portion of the oil remains in the U.S. have been rejected by the House Republican leadership.

    Supporters of Keystone XL have widely touted the job-creation benefits of this pipeline, but in reality this project will provide less than three dozen permanent jobs. The projections in the State Department's environmental impact statement, made in consultation with TransCanada, reveal that up to 42,100 direct and indirect temporary jobs will be supported during construction of the pipeline. I do not diminish this factor. However, when construction is completed in less than two years, Keystone XL is expected to support only 35 permanent jobs.

    Rather than investing in renewable energy technologies and infrastructure updates that would benefit millions of Americans, the House has chosen as its first order of business in the 114th Congress to provide a special deal to a Canadian company, without any guarantee that a single drop of the oil will remain in the United States. For this reason and the others I've stated, I urge my colleagues to oppose this legislation and any further attempts to short-circuit the Keystone XL review process.


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