Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Waxman's Opposition to Keystone Pipeline -- and the Truth

The Democratic Party in Washington is divided on a number of issues. Blue state senators in red states defend the Second Amendment, placing themselves at odds with President Obama and the liberal caucus driving his policies.

Environmental regulations are also causing friction for the Democratic Party. Union interests and advocates for blue-collars workers demand the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would not only create jobs, but would pipe in expanded energy independence while strengthening political and economic ties with Canada, one of the United States’ strongest global allies.

Nevertheless, from 2012 until the present day, Congressman Henry Waxman has resisted the Keystone extension, claiming that “all that dirty oil” will cause irreparable harm to our nation’s groundwater without providing substantial benefits in bringing down gas prices or solving our nation’s energy concerns.

Earlier this year, Congressman Waxman issued the following email, championing his continued efforts to block Keystone.

Dear Friends,

On May 22, the House of Representatives voted for the fourth time in two years to give a special deal to TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.  H.R. 3, which passed the House with heavy Republican support, would effectively exempt TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline from all federal permitting requirements, including environmental requirements every other construction project in the U.S. must meet.  It is an extreme proposal, and it shows how far House Republicans are willing to go to let the oil companies set the agenda.

The matter is not about oil companies setting anything but more pipeline for Americans to receive more access to hydrocarbon. Does the Congressman insist on forcing Americans to pay high prices at the pump? Not even six years ago, the average cost of fuel was $2.50 a gallon. Even though the drivers in the United States have not been reduced to waiting in lines and visiting their gas stations on certain days, hard-working men and women are still hurting just to drive from work to home.

I have fought hard against the Keystone XL pipeline, which would triple the production of tar sands, the dirtiest form of fuel on the planet.  Each gallon of tar sands-based fuel burned releases up to 40% more carbon pollution than a typical gallon of gasoline.  This increase in pollution would only make our job to avoid catastrophic climate change that much harder.  That makes no sense. 

What are the stats on tar sands production and pollution?

There is indeed significant research and reports which confirm the dangers of tar sand spills in general. I would counter that following the crash and massive oil spill of the Exxon Valdez in the early 1990s, the world did not stop shipping oil on large barges.

Then The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality conducted its own study, even after TransCanada agreed to divert the flow of the pipeline away from a major aquifer.  Despite the horrific consequences of oil-bearing trains which collide and explode, the incidence of such accidents is rare, according to policy experts who were commenting on a recent explosion in Quebec. The rising number of trains transporting oil has increased, with fewer accidents.

There will always be risks, whether building bridges or pipelines. The world is fraught with risk, yet the resiliency of men and women in our communities cannot be discounted, either. If politicians and policy makers followed the arguments and advocacy of environmental activists to their logical limits, we would never drill for oil, we would not cut one acre of wheat, and very likely, the pursuit of any forms of fuel would be futile.

I offered a modest amendment to H.R. 3 that would have required TransCanada to offset the increased pollution associated with the tar sands fuels with projects that would lower greenhouse gas emissions.  My amendment failed, as did all of the sensible environmentally-friendly amendments offered by my Democratic colleagues.

What proof did the Congressman provide to prove this pollution? These amendments are frustration in their obscurity. TransCanada is in the oil production business, not the greenhouse gas demission-emission trade.

H.R. 3 would trample American laws to get Canada’s dirty tar sands oil to the Gulf, where it could be refined and exported to other countries.  It would be a boon to tar sands developers and refiners like the Koch Brothers, Valero, and Shell, but it would be a terrible deal for the American public.  You can count on me to continue to work hard against the Keystone XL pipeline and every Republican effort to rig the process in favor of the oil companies.

How would this project be terrible for the public? Because other nations would be purchasing the oil? Congressman Waxman should have considered that if other nations are able to purchase oil from a greater expansion of reserves, then the greater availability of hydrocarbon would bring down gas prices.


Henry A. Waxman

The arguments against Keystone XL  are insincere and unverified. There will always be potential dangers, including spills and explosions, associated with the expansion of oil production. Yet research and reported responses relate that such concerns should not prevent the construction of the Keystone Pipeline.

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