(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.