Va. lawmakers on House passing Keystone bill

Sub-freezing temperatures continue in on Capitol Hill in Washington early Friday morning, Jan. 9, 2015. With the end of the first week of the GOP controlled 114th Congress, House Republicans are on track to easily pass legislation to authorize the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, moving the GOP-led Congress closer to a clash with President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP/WAVY) — The House overwhelmingly passed a bill on Friday authorizing the Keystone XL oil pipeline, despite a renewed pledge by the White House to veto the legislation after a Nebraska court removed a major obstacle.

Virginia lawmakers released the following statements in response to the vote.

Congressman Scott Rigell (VA-02):

Efforts like the Keystone XL pipeline and developing Virginia’s coastal energy will put people back to work, grow our economy, and strengthen our national security.

These efforts have bipartisan support, and this Administration is the only thing standing in the way of thousands of life-changing jobs for Americans. I urge President Obama to be a part of the solution, not the problem, and sign this important bill as soon as it reaches his desk; or approve the Keystone XL pipeline’s construction today.

Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03):

Supporters of the Keystone XL Pipeline believe that construction of the pipeline will create jobs and move our nation closer to energy independence by reducing our reliance on foreign oil. However, these beliefs fail to recognize the current economic climate.  Last year, the United States produced more oil domestically than was imported, and gas prices are, and are expected to remain, near lows not seen in years.  Even if this were not the case, much of the tar sands oil that would run through this new pipeline would not be sold in the United States and would have no effect on domestic gas prices, but would instead pass through our nation for eventual sale on international markets.

Additionally, the long term economic benefits of this pipeline do not justify risking our nation’s drinking water, farmlands, and tribal grounds.  Cleanup costs from a 2010 tar sands oil pipeline spill in Kalamazoo, Michigan have exceeded $1 billion. To add insult to injury, companies that produce, ship, or refine tar sands oil are not required to pay into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which conventional crude oil companies pay into,  and therefore the cost of cleaning up tar sands oil spills will fall on the American taxpayer.

According to the State Department’s Final Environmental Impact Statement, the project would only directly create 2,000 temporary jobs and few as 35 permanent jobs.  Last month, our economy grew by more than 250,000 jobs and is currently creating more jobs in two hours of an average work day than the temporary jobs that would be created by this project, and more jobs in one and a half average workday minutes than the permanent jobs created. 

Instead of exempting foreign corporations from federal permitting requirements, Congress should be working on policies that diversify our nation’s energy portfolio, reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, and support the President’s policies that have resulted in gas prices being reduced from $3.07 per gallon when he was sworn in in 2009 to $2.30 today.

Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-1):

The Keystone XL pipeline is a long overdue project that will help to achieve North American energy independence and also create American jobs. It is unacceptable that the White House has failed for so long to approve this project, even though the State Department itself has mitigated concerns over potential environmental impacts. I was proud to support the Keystone XL Pipeline Act, and I am hopeful that it will pass the Senate soon. We cannot wait any longer.

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