(State Department not much better!)
On Tuesday, the U.S. House voted strongly in favor of H.R. 1938, a bill ignoring the separation of powers and ordering the State Department to resolve the permit process for the TransCanada Keystone XL oil pipeline by November 1. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) got 279 votes, including 47 Democrats, who likely were responding to union support for the pipeline. (Come on, conservatives: if unions like Keystone XL, it must be bad, right?)
Congresswoman Kristi Noem voted for H.R. 1938. Expect her to mention this vote on the campaign trail as proof that she fights government bureaucracy and dependence on foreign oil and is increasing America's energy supply. Noem probably won't mention that this bill is unnecessary (the State Department has said it will render a decision by the end of this year). Noem won't mention that TransCanada plans to use Keystone XL to raise our gasoline prices and ship oil to China. Noem won't mention that Keystone XL's capacity won't be needed until after 2020.
South Dakota's lone Congresswoman is also unlikely to mention all the amendments to H.R. 1938 that she voted against on Tuesday (followed by the names of the colleagues who offered those amendments):
- Noem doesn't want the President to certify that Keystone XL will not lead to market manipulation that would harm U.S. consumers (Kucinich-OH).
- Noem doesn't want to study the health impacts of the pipeline on communities near refineries (Johnson-GA).
- Noem doesn't want to know whether TransCanada has calculated the worst-case spill scenario and that it has the resources to respond to such a spill (Hanabusa-HI).
- Noem doesn't want to study the chemical composition of the diluted bitumen coursing through the pipeline or determine whether current regulations are sufficient to address the hazards of this substance (Eshoo-CA).
- Noem doesn't want to state the simple fact (a statement which does not slow the review process at all) that Keystone XL would "provide an export route to China where none now exists" (Cohen-TN).
- Noem doesn't want to add to the record the fact that TransCanada's first big tar sands pipeline leaked 33 times in its first year of operation (Cohen-TN).
- Noem doesn't even want to acknowledge that Keystone XL will run across the Ogallala Aquifer and that spills there would endanger drinking water and agriculture (Cohen-TN).
I am dismayed that Congresswoman Noem and so many of her colleagues, Republican and Democrat, are so eager to stick her head in the tar sands. I'm disappointed that the State Department is only slightly less eager. The understudies risks and exaggerated benefits of Keystone XL require more study, not less.
Related: Congresswoman Kristi Noem cast her oily votes on the first anniversary of the Enbridge tar sands oil pipeline spill in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where the cleanup continues. Also voting for the Keystone XL hurry-up: Rep. Fred Upton, who represents Kalamazoo.
Another amendment was also submitted by Rep. Sutton (OH) to try and limit the increase of gas prices in the Midwest that TransCanada has predicted would happen if KXL is built. She additionally addressed the point that a foreign company should not be able to condemn Americans' land through eminent domain. The amendment would also have tried to limit those land seizures. Noem voted against this amendment as well, which seems strange since people she represents are in the process of being condemned.
As a side note Rep. Terry's response to that amendment was to say, "Number one, private companies do not have any rights of eminent domain; they can't take people's lands. So this part about them exercising eminent domain is just not relevant here. They aren't doing this; they don't have the power." Complete nonsense. I wonder if he would be enlightened to the truth (that TC can and are condemning land) he would change his tune. My guess is no.
For more info on the increase in Midwest crude prices, including a link to TC's own testimony admitting prices would increase: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/lizbb/what_senator_landrieus_letter.html
That's what you get when you send an intern to do a Congresswomans job!
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