Today, Representatives Jared Polis (CO-02), Vice-Chair of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC), Representatives Judy Chu (CA-27), Environment Taskforce Chair for the SEEC, and Gerry Connolly (VA-11), SEEC Co-Chair, joined forces to ensure that the Northern Route Approval Act (H.R. 3), maintains the accountability the American people expect from legislation that authorizes a potentially hazardous oil pipeline.
While Republicans have pushed to eliminate environmental and health precautions in the authorization of the Keystone XL pipeline, Reps. Chu, Polis and Connolly offered an amendment requiring the Government Accountability Office to study and report on the total projected costs of a pipeline spill. That includes the cost of cleanup, the toll on public health, the impact of environmental degradation, and the quantity and quality of water available for public consumption, as well as for farming needs.
The Chu/Polis/Connolly amendment was defeated by a vote of 185 to 231 in the Republican controlled House of Representatives.
"Given the recent spill of tar sands crude oil in Mayflower, Arkansas, it is particularly critical to address the true cost of oil pipeline spills on public health, natural resources, and accessibility of clean water," continued Rep. Polis. "It is inevitable that the Keystone XL pipeline will have spills and leaks that are not only costly to clean up, but that would also take a toll on our communities. Instead of trying to rubber stamp Keystone XL this week, we in Congress should be working to ensure we are aware of the impact of spills on the health of our communities and the quantity and quality of our clean water resources available for agricultural and municipal purposes."
"The American people deserve to know exactly what politicians are exposing them to in this rush to build the Keystone XL pipeline," said Rep. Chu. "The tar sands oil that will flow through it is particularly corrosive to the environment and potentially to the pipeline as well. Anyone living close to the pipeline faces a constant threat that the oil will end up in the land they call home or the water they drink and irrigate crops with. The amendment we offered today would simply clarify the costs of cleaning up such a spill, and outline in advance what is expected of a cleanup effort. The interests of oil companies are being placed before the wellbeing of the American people and our environment. We need to know what it will cost when -- not if -- a spill occurs."
"The public has the right to know the financial and environmental costs of pipeline spills and their impact on the health of those affected by such spills," Rep. Gerry Connolly said. "This amendment simply codifies into law the pledges by the oil industry that they will be accountable for the damages resulting from spills along the pipeline route."
Representatives Chu, Polis and Connolly ultimately voted against H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act. The bill passed by a vote of 241 to 175.