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Frank P.
Democrat NJ 6

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  • Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act

    by Representative Frank Pallone Jr.

    Posted on 2015-02-11

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    PALLONE. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.



    Today we are voting once again to grant special treatment to TransCanada's Keystone tar sands pipeline. It is the 11th time we are voting on a special deal for the Canadian company's pipeline since Republicans took control of the House of Representatives. This Congress has much work to do on energy. Our situation is changing rapidly, and each energy-related decision we make can have long-term consequences for our environment, our economy, and our national security. But the President has made clear that he will veto this legislation, so we should stop wasting our time on it.

    The Senate added many provisions to this version of the Keystone bill. Some of the provisions on energy efficiency are provisions that I and many of my colleagues can support and have supported in the past, but those provisions should be considered separately, preferably as stand-alone bills in the House and Senate. They should not be held hostage by another doomed Keystone approval bill, and they in no way come close to offsetting the harm that would be caused by Congress deeming Keystone pipeline approved.

    We don't need this Canadian tar sands oil. Worldwide crude oil prices are at their lowest level in 5 years, and gasoline prices are down, too. Domestic oil production is up. Last week EPA noted that low oil prices means approval of the Keystone pipeline could be a critical factor in the economic viability of Canadian tar sands expansion. And tar sands are among the dirtiest and carbon intensive of all fossil fuels. The Keystone pipeline will create a dependence on tar sands crude, reversing the carbon pollution reductions that we need.

    This pipeline is a terrible deal for America. We get all of the risks while the oil companies reap the rewards. If this pipeline spills, like Enbridge pipeline in Michigan, the heavy tar sands that flow onto the ground and into our waters, our groundwater and our surface water, will be even harder to clean up than regular oil.

    [[Page H952]] Unfortunately, if there is such a spill, it will be cleaned up at U.S. taxpayer expense and the polluter won't have to pay. Why is that? Because tar sands are not considered crude oil for purposes of contributing to the oil spill liability trust fund. We have repeatedly pointed out this egregious and unjustified loophole to the majority, and we have repeatedly received assurances that it will be addressed-- yet it has still not been addressed. In fact, three times in this Chamber alone, we have offered amendments to solve this problem, but the Republican majority voted each one of them down.

    Now there is this new ``sense of the Senate'' language that was put into the bill by the Senate that promises further action on this issue, but it is no substitute for real legislation to protect the American taxpayer from the financial consequences of a tar sands spill. Make no mistake, this language, this sense of Congress or sense of the Senate, does nothing to change the equation and end the tar sands oil subsidy.

    Recently, the President stood in this Chamber and noted that 21st century businesses need 21st century infrastructure. He said that we should ``set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline.'' Yet here we are again voting on that single oil pipeline.

    It is my hope that we are nearing the end of this long cycle of futile votes to grant special treatment to this single pipeline; and it is my hope that sooner rather than later we can get back to trying to find agreement on a moderate energy policy, one that is sustainable, one that helps the U.S. economy, and one that moves us forward, not backward, in the fight against climate change. In the meantime, I urge my colleagues once again to vote ``no'' on this bill.

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