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Edward M.
Democrat MA

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  • Keystone XL Pipeline

    by Senator Edward J. Markey

    Posted on 2015-01-07

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    MARKEY. Mr. President, I seek recognition to speak for 10 minutes.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator is recognized.

    Mr. MARKEY. Mr. President, the issue we are going to be debating over the next 2 weeks in the United States is really a story about two gasoline stations.

    In July of 2008, the average price of gasoline in America was $4.11 a gallon. In January of 2015 in the United States of America the price is $2.21 a gallon. That is great for every driver across our country, and that is great for Americans who buy home heating oil. They are saving a lot of money this winter and the predictions are that it will continue throughout the rest of this year. That is great.

    However, it is not great for the oil companies. It is not great for the Canadians. It is not great for Wall Street. They are not happy with this incredible benefit that is now flowing to Americans all across our country who now have a gasoline station that has $2.21, on average, as to what people will pay.

    What does the Keystone XL Pipeline truly stand for? It truly stands for the Keystone ``export'' pipeline. That is right. What the Canadians want to do is to basically construct a straw through the United States of America, bring that straw down to Port Arthur, TX, which is a tax- free export zone, and then export the oil out of the United States.

    Why would they want to do that since they advertise that it is all about North American energy independence? There is a simple reason. The price of tar sands oil in Canada right now is getting $13 less per barrel than it would get in the United States, but it is $17 less than if they can get it into ships and send it around the world. That is the very simple economic strategy of the Canadians.

    How do I know this? Because during a hearing in the House of Representatives I asked the head of the pipeline for TransCanada: Would you accept an amendment to keep all of the oil here in the United States of America? He said: No.

    By the way, I asked the same question of the head of the American Petroleum Institute. He said: No.

    There is a lot of false advertising going on here. On one hand they say this is great for American energy independence. On the other hand, when we say let's have an amendment on the floor of the Senate that will keep the Keystone oil here in the United States, they say: Oh, no. They are absolutely opposed to that.

    Logically, we have to reach the conclusion that their goal is to get the extra $17 per barrel which they will get if they can start selling it to China, Latin America, and other parts of the world. That is the plan. There are no two ways about it.

    By the way, that should be their plan. That is what their responsibility is--it is to the shareholders of their companies.

    What is the strategy for the American driver? That is whom we have a responsibility to. We need to make sure they get the lowest possible price. My goodness. They have been tipped upside down and had their money shaken out of their pockets at gas stations all across our country for years, and finally the day of deliverance has arrived and they have $2.21, on average, for the price of a gallon of gas, and now we are told the price of oil is too low. We have to get it back up again. Of course, the best way of accomplishing that is to start exporting oil because the less there is in North America, the higher the price will be for American drivers and for American home heating oil consumers. It is a very simple plan.

    It is not about helping Americans at the pump. It is about pumping up the prices so oil companies will have new profits. It is very simple. If it is not that, then just accept an amendment that keeps all the oil here. It is a simple thing to do, and then the rhetoric matches with the reality of what is going to happen. The oil should stay here, but they will not accept that, and they have made that clear.

    This is all part of a wish list we are going to see on the Senate floor for the rest of this year. This is the Big Oil wish list of 2015. We start with the Keystone ``extra large export'' Pipeline to take oil and send it out of the country. Then they want to lift the ban on the exportation of U.S. crude oil, which is now on the books--a ban on U.S. crude oil. This is Canadian oil. There are no laws against that. Then they want to begin exporting our natural gas, even as consumers and businesses and natural gas vehicle firms are enjoying record-low prices, which in turn is transforming the American manufacturing sector and our relationship with natural gas in America. They essentially want to declare war on the Environmental Protection Agency and their authority to protect Americans against pollution and to make sure the fuel economy standards of the vehicles which we drive continue to rise and rise.

    Honestly, if we want to tell OPEC we are serious and keep them awake at night, then we should keep the oil here so the prices will drop, and we also need to increase the fuel economy standards and consume and import less oil. But that is not going to be the agenda that comes out here on the Senate floor from the majority. It is going to be just the opposite. In a way, that is why this first debate is actually a preview of coming attractions of what will be happening out here on the floor of the Senate throughout the course of this entire year.

    There is kind of a Keystone kabuki theater that is debuting this afternoon on the Senate floor. The reality is this bill will never become law. The President is going to veto this bill. There are not enough votes to override the veto. So instead what we have is just a preview of this entire agenda, notwithstanding the fact that they are not going to be supporting a national renewable electricity standard or dramatically increasing the energy efficiency laws in our country or making sure the Canadians finally have to pay their taxes for the oil liability trust fund which they are now exempt from. American oil companies have to have a trust fund--in the event there is an oil spill in the pipeline--but the Canadians don't have to have a trust fund. Over 10 years, that is $2 billion that American companies have to pay, which Canadians don't have to pay, to make sure that something is done to protect against oilspills.

    Back when the Democrats took over the House and Senate in 2007, we worked together to put together a comprehensive energy bill. What was in it? Dramatically increasing the fuel economy standards of the vehicles in our country, having a new biofuels law to expand that production, and making sure that energy efficiency in America was enhanced dramatically. We worked on a bipartisan basis, and President Bush, a Republican, signed that bill because it was done in a bipartisan, ``all of the above'' approach.

    That is not what this is all about. This is not ``all of the above''; this is ``oil above all.'' That is the strategy the Keystone Pipeline embodies--shouts. It is not balanced. It is not where we should be as a country.

    So I say let's have an amendment to the bill that keeps the oil here in the United States. Let's have this debate here on the floor. Let's match up the rhetoric of the oil stays here with protection of the American economy and the American driver within the reality that we voted for that to keep it here. Let's have that debate. I think it is important because otherwise the Canadians and the American Petroleum Institute will continue to engage in false advertising about where this oil is going to be used.

    So from my perspective, this is the dirtiest oil in the world that is going to contribute mightily to an expansion of global warming. We know that 2014 was the warmest year ever recorded in history-- notwithstanding the fact that it snowed here in Washington, DC, yesterday--the warmest year in history. That [[Page S49]] is what I think the green generation out there knows as they look at this issue. What are we going to do to make sure we avoid the catastrophic consequences of a dangerously warming planet? We have to engage in preventive care of this planet. There are no emergency rooms for planets. We have to engage in preventive care to make sure we do not pass on this ever-increasing danger to future generations. We are going to get a chance here to debate this. The Keystone Pipeline is a good example of how there is not, in fact, a balanced policy.

    I asked for an amendment on the floor so that we can debate whether the oil goes through a pipeline from Canada--the dirtiest oil in the world--like a straw, potentially causing environmental catastrophes across our country, and then gets exported around the rest of the planet.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Johnson). The time of the Senator has expired.

    Mr. MARKEY. I think this is the kind of debate the American people expect the Senate to engage in.

    I yield the floor.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Vermont.

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