Statement of Congressman Blumenauer on Keystone XL Pipeline Vote

January 23, 2015
Press Release

I voted against H.R. 3, the Keystone XL Pipeline Act

This legislation sends the wrong signal, short-circuiting the legal approval process for the construction of a pipeline carrying some of the dirtiest oil in the world – oil extracted from tar sands - from Canada and across the United States to refineries near the Gulf of Mexico. I also voted against the previous nine attempts the House has made to approve the project. While the Nebraska court decision may have answered one question, others remain. I don’t want to establish the precedent of skipping the Administration’s review process and emboldening a Congress driven by extreme political views on immigration, foreign policy, and climate to name a few.

Until we put a price on carbon and Canada (and the United States for that matter) adopt stronger climate policies, what ultimately will stop tar sands oil production will be the price of oil and a changing energy economy. It may already be too expensive to produce right now, as oil prices have fallen dramatically below the threshold previously deemed necessary for more expensive oil extraction methods. Considering that, and the fact that the pipeline is projected to only create 35 permanent jobs in the United States if constructed, it hardly seems worth circumventing a process all similar projects must go through.

It’s true that the Keystone pipeline would create several thousand construction jobs which are real and needed.  More jobs and economic impact would be created with less environmental impact, however, with investments in infrastructure, alternative energy and conservation. In 2013 alone, the clean energy and clean transportation economy created nearly 80,000 jobs in the United States. Supporting these important and still emerging industries is where we should be focusing our attention as policy makers.  That’s why I have been a staunch supporter of investing in the production of clean renewable energy, energy efficiency, and renewable energy research.

As part of this debate, one factor that Congress can and should address right now is closing a loophole that allows tar sands oil to be carried by the Keystone XL pipeline or coming to US refineries by other means, to be exempt from a tax that funds oil spill cleanup. I’ve introduced HR 214, the Tar Sands Tax Loophole Elimination Act, which would ensure oil companies pay their fair share. These companies already receive billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies. Regardless of what one thinks about the Keystone XL pipeline, we should all be able to agree that the companies transporting the oil, which are some of the most profitable companies in the world, should be the ones to pay for any spills that damage the environment and our communities, and not you, the taxpayer.