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Public Statements

Northern Route Approval Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. HOLT. Mr. Chairman, Let me begin where the gentleman from California (Mr. Waxman) completed his remarks.

We are experiencing climate change. It is very expensive in lives and dollars. It is the result of the way we produce and use energy. We must make these points clear. What we are talking about with this legislation is going further down this dangerous, deadly road.

Now, beyond that, this legislation we are considering today represents a complete disregard of the effect of tar sands oil on our environment and our economy. This bill would ask the United States to bear all of the environmental risk without any appreciable rewards.

Less than 2 months ago, in Mayflower, Arkansas--a typical American small town--the 2,234 residents of that Arkansas River town learned what we mean by ``risk'' from an oil pipeline. As much as 7,000 barrels of oil spilled into neighboring communities and the environment.

This oil was tar sands oil. This pipeline was part of this Canadian pipeline system that we are talking about today. But rather than ensuring that, if we're going to build the Keystone pipeline to transport this dirty, particularly dirty, oil across the United States, that we first ensure that we have proper protections for our environment, this bill would take us in completely the opposite direction, while doing nothing to ensure that Keystone oil would enhance our energy security. There's nothing whatsoever in this bill to require that the Keystone oil actually stay in the United States.

The jobs that will be created by this, according to the Environmental Impact Statement prepared by the U.S. State Department, the jobs that would be created over the long term number in the few dozen--like 35--not in the thousands. Yes, there will be some construction jobs--and I want to assure our working Americans that we want jobs for them--but we want sustainable jobs that come from clean energy. They are available--they are available today--if we would stop going down this mistaken road.

The proposed pipeline would transport tar sands oil from Canada through the United States to free trade zones in Texas for export. All risk, no reward. We are just a bypass. This is not oil that's coming to improve the lives of Americans, to give us energy to power our cars or our industries. No. This is just passing through us, with the risk of a spill, with the problems to the environment that might result. It ignores the lessons of the recent Exxon pipeline spill in Arkansas and the tar sands spill in Michigan. It does nothing to close a loophole that currently allows tar sands oil to avoid paying taxes into the oil spill cleanup fund--that's right--because this bitumen, this product that comes out of the tar sands, is defined as ``not oil'' for the purposes of paying into the oil spill liability trust fund. So, it gets a free ride through the United States on its way to foreign countries.

If we're going to consider this bill, at least let's use it as an opportunity to close the tar sands loophole and ensure that when the oil spills occur--I'll grant to the other side that this may be a safe pipeline, but there is no such thing as a perfectly safe pipeline--and when the oil spills occur, let's have the money there to clean it up.

This bill goes on to declare that a Presidential permit is not required for a trans-border project and that all requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, the

Endangered Species Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty would be deemed to have been satisfied, even if they haven't been satisfied.

This is a bad deal for our country. This legislation does nothing to guarantee our energy security. All risk, no reward.

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Mr. HOLT. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the remaining time.

As we've heard, this is a bill that gives a Canadian company a sweetheart deal. It deems that all the conditions have been met, even if they haven't been. It takes a very dirty product, ships it through the United States, where we bear the risk of an oil spill. It's shipped to other countries. The U.S. consumer, the U.S. businessperson, the U.S. economy derives little to no benefit from this. All risk, no reward.

The TransCanada Keystone pipeline, the existing part of it, which would be connected to this proposed pipeline, experienced 12 separate oil spills in 2010. In the United States, there are typically more than 3 million gallons spilled from pipelines, so don't tell me that this is without risk.

As for helping the economy, we would like to have good, long-lasting jobs for Americans. This is not the way to do it. It does not do it. The long-lasting jobs number in the dozens, not the thousands.

So this very dirty oil will not increase U.S. energy security. It certainly will not lower energy prices, which are determined on the world market and through various manipulations here.

This clearly is not in the interest of the American consumer or American business. There's nothing in this bill to require that oil from this pipeline stay in the United States. There's nothing to close the tax loophole that allows tar sands oil to avoid paying for oil cleanup. In fact, I note with some irony here that some members of the majority who have spoken today in favor of this legislation to expedite the pipeline construction have asked the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee to fix this oil spill liability trust fund loophole, in other words, to see that this is not exempt from paying into the oil spill trust fund. But the irony is they don't want to fix it now; they want to fix it sometime in the future in an as-of-yet imaginative or conjectural tax reform.

If they really wanted to fix it, this would be the time to do it, rather than to take a bill and ask for streamlined, no-questions-asked approval: take the executive branch out of the decision, give the sweetheart deal to the Canadian company, and close the books. We would regret it if that happened.

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Mr. HOLT. Mr. Chairman, this amendment that I am offering on behalf of the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Connolly) and the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Markey) simply requires that the oil transported through the Keystone XL pipeline, the refined products made from the oil as well, stay in the United States except under certain circumstances.

Now, the proponents of the Keystone pipeline, as we've heard today, say it is important for U.S. energy security. That can't be true if the oil just passes through the United States on its way to other countries, and there is nothing in the underlying legislation that would require that the oil transported through the Keystone pipeline, or the refined fuels produced from that oil, stay in the United States to benefit American consumers.

In fact, when the president of TransCanada, who got a sweetheart deal through this legislation, was asked whether he would commit to keeping the Keystone tar sands oil and the refined fuels in the United States, he said, no. That's why we need to adopt this amendment.

U.S. oil consumption peaked in 2005. It's declined by more than 10 percent since then. During the same period, U.S. petroleum production increased 38 percent.

So how is this balanced?

We're exporting it.

Now, that's not necessarily bad. For years, the import of oil hurt our balance of trade. But in 2011, the United States became a net exporter of petroleum products for the first time in half a century. We've exported 3 million barrels per day of petroleum products, and in 2012, exports increased to 3.2 million barrels per day.

The Keystone pipeline would transport the dirtiest oil in the world from Canada, through the United States, to refineries on the gulf coast, where it would be exported, tax-free, to foreign countries.

This is just a pipeline, about three-dozen permanent workers assigned to this pipeline. Otherwise, all we get from this is the risk of a spill.

According to the Energy Information Administration, more than 76 percent of the current U.S. petroleum exports come from the gulf coast. In fact, 60 percent of the gas, and 42 percent of the diesel produced at Texas gulf coast refineries was exported.

That fact, that the refined product will be exported, is not speculation. Look at the business plans of Valero, one of the Nation's largest refineries, which operates several facilities on the gulf coast.

Valero's 2012 annual report claims that the U.S. markets are oversupplied to the point where the company's chief executive, Bill Kless, recently said, ``There's so much oil, it's got to be moving. Our view is that it's flooding the gulf coast.''

And the solution?

Well, Valero is shipping domestically produced crude to Canada for refining under a license that allows the company to send up to 90,000 barrels a day for the next year. It's more than double what we exported to Canada last year.

That's right. One of the largest U.S. refiners in the gulf wants to massively increase exports of American crude to Canada at the same time that we are passing this legislation to send Canadian tar sands oil to the gulf coast. I would like to ask the proponents of this to explain how this makes sense.

The president of the American Petroleum Institute and the CEO of ConocoPhillips have said that we should change U.S. law to allow for the expanded exports of domestically produced oil.

Well, the re-export of crude oil is already allowed under current law. Without my amendment, crude oil that comes out of Keystone could circumvent U.S. refineries and be exported as crude. I ask my colleagues to think hard about how that helps America.

The Keystone XL pipeline would ask the United States to bear all of the environmental risk of transporting the dirtiest oil in the world without ensuring that U.S. consumers or our energy security see any benefits from this.

If the proponents of this legislation are serious about ensuring that the Keystone XL pipeline really does enhance U.S. energy security, they will vote ``yes'' on this amendment.

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