January 08, 2015

DeFazio Blasts Republican Passage of Controversial Keystone XL Bill

Washington, D.C.--Today, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) blasted the House Republican Leadership for passing legislation that bypasses federal agencies to allow construction on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.  DeFazio helped lead Democratic opposition to the controversial legislation, which has been considered by the House ten times. 

“Under this legislation, TransCanada gets the profits; they pay nothing into the spill recovery Trust Fund; the American people get the bill if there’s a spill; and the rights of individual Americans to access the legal system are limited – all to benefit a foreign company. Welcome, to the new Republican Congress, America,” said DeFazio.

Like the last Keystone bill Congress considered, this legislation fails to require TransCanada, a foreign company, to pay an excise tax that all other oil and pipeline companies are required to pay to help finance an Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund that helps cover the costs of cleaning up oil spills. Democrats tried to amend the bill to force TransCanada to contribute to the spill fund like every U.S. oil and pipeline company, but Republicans rejected the measure.

The legislation would pave the way for the Canadian corporation to use eminent domain, to begin seizing private property if the landowner is unwilling to sell to TransCanada. DeFazio highlighted a letter in which TransCanada threatens that they will “commence the legal process of eminent domain to obtain [the land],” from landowners unwilling to sell.

“I do find it particularly ironic that today, on the same day that the House read the Constitution, Republicans passed a bill that would give a foreign corporation the right to take private property from American citizens. I’m not aware of any other time, that Congress has voted to give a foreign entity the right to take the private property of a U.S. citizen,” said DeFazio.

The bill ignores the major environmental risks associated with tar sands oil and the pipeline—including increased carbon pollution, depredation of natural resources, and the potential for catastrophic spills. In Canada, irreplaceable, boreal forests and water resources are being destroyed in order to extract the oil. Tar sands oil emits 81 percent more greenhouse gas than average crude, reversing carbon pollution reductions and environmental and safety improvements achieved in the United States.

Click below for Rep. DeFazio’s floor statement: