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Motions to Instruct Conferees on H.R. 4348, Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012, Part II

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. COHEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this motion to instruct the conferees. I'm a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and we would like to see our bill passed.

And I represent a city, Memphis, Tennessee, that is the transportation and distribution center of America. Transportation jobs are extremely important to the city of Memphis.

It's been 958 days, nine extensions, nearly 3 years since the last surface transportation bill expired. The Keystone proponents insist this language be in this transportation bill, which is language, if it's anywhere, should be in an energy bill, not a transportation bill. But by doing so, they will end the hopes of transportation workers throughout this country, let alone Memphis, to have a transportation reauthorization bill passed. We will, instead, have a 10th extension and even more uncertainty in the transportation business.

The Senate's made it clear they're not going to accept the bill with the Keystone pipeline extension and so has the President of the United States, the same President of the United States who allowed the extension, the southern extension of the Keystone XL to go through. He's not against pipe lines. He's not against oil. But he's against this one because it hasn't gone through the proper processes. And at that time, he'll make a decision, pro or con. But it needs to go through the proper processes, so we don't need to defeat the scientific judgment and environmental studies that are necessary before we approve a pipeline.

But what's happening is the proponents of the Keystone pipeline are paying homage to their patron saint, their patron saint, Big Oil. What Big Oil wants, Big Oil often gets. And it's Big Oil, not the people of Canada, our friends with the hockey pucks, our friends who have got a long-time good relationship with this Nation. It's Big Oil that will make the profit and control the oil. And Big Oil wants to sell it where they will make the most profit.

There is a greater demand in this world for oil than ever before because of a burgeoning middle class in China and India and other parts of this world where people are starting to get cars and need gas to drive those cars. Because of that, the price of oil has gone up.

While the middle class in America has shrunk, the middle class around the world has grown, and they want that oil, and that's where it's going to be sold. It doesn't have to go to Port Arthur, Texas, to go to other places. But it's going to be sold on the international market where it gets the best price for the oil companies who are already getting great tax breaks from this Congress, and that won't help the American people one iota.

The fact is we need to end our addiction to Big Oil. We need to get away from fossil fuels, and we need to think about the next generation.

James Hansen, a leading NASA climate scientist, has called the pipeline the fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet. Game over. Give up future generations. Forget the flora and the fauna. Forget what we've known in the past.

But the real issue besides that is this is just not relevant and pertinent to this bill. What's important is that we pass a reauthorization bill that builds our highways, improves our transportation system, gets more people into buses, finds alternative forms of energy, has bike lanes and encourages people to get around without burning fossil fuels, and gets our transportation bill passed and puts people to work.

It's the best thing we could do for the economy is to pass the bill. And the conferees' suggestion that the Keystone pipeline be kept alive as an issue just keeps the passage of this bill further down the road, keeps American workers unemployed, keeps commerce stalled.

We need to not approve this recommendation. I ask us to vote ``no.''


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