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Saturday, December 15 , 2018, 6:27 am | Fair 42º

 
 
 
 

Capps Offers Amendment to Keystone Bill to Hold TransCanada Accountable for Future Oil Spills

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, on Wednesday offered the final amendment to S. 1, the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act on the House floor.

The amendment would have ensured that TransCanada — and not taxpayers — pays to clean up the mess in the event of an oil spill from the Keystone XL pipeline.

The motion failed, 241-181, and the House voted to approve S. 1, 270-152. The bill now heads to President Obama, who has pledged to veto the bill.

The amendment would have required TransCanada to pay the same per-barrel fee toward the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund for the tar sands oil transported through Keystone XL that every other oil company currently pays when transporting conventional crude.

“We can all agree that extracting and transporting oil has serious risks,” Capps said. “Despite numerous assurances that Keystone XL will be safer and that risk of a spill will be minimal, safer simply does not equal safe. It only takes one small crack, one small mistake to cause a major oil spill and catastrophic, irreparable damage to the surrounding environment and communities. That is why we have the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, to ensure that the oil companies that create these messes also pay to clean them up. My commonsense amendment would have required TransCanada to certify that it will pay the same per-barrel fee for its tar sands oil as it does for regular crude, and I am disappointed it was not adopted.”

Watch Capps on the House floor here. Her speech, as prepared, is below.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to offer the final amendment to this bill.

Passage of this amendment will not prevent passage of the underlying bill.

If it’s adopted, my amendment will simply be incorporated into the bill, and the bill will be immediately voted upon.

Mr. Speaker, no matter if you support or oppose Keystone XL, we can all agree that extracting and transporting oil has serious risks.

It only takes one small crack, one small mistake to cause a major oil spill and catastrophic, irreparable damage to the surrounding environment and communities.

History has shown us that there simply is no such thing as a spill-proof well or pipeline.

Accidents happen. And they will continue to happen, regardless of what we’re told by the oil companies building and maintaining the pipelines.

In fact, accidents have already happened 14 times on the existing section of the Keystone pipeline.

And these oil spills don’t just devastate the surrounding environment, they harm lives and livelihoods as well.

In 1969 my home district experienced one of the worst oil spills in U.S. history …

I saw firsthand the devastating damage to our local economy, human health, property, and natural resources.

And, we’ve seen this happen far too many times since then in communities around the country.

The Deepwater Horizon disaster cost 11 lives, billions of dollars in economic damages, and untold devastation to the delicate ecosystem of the Gulf.

And that very same year, we also saw a terrible spill in Kalamazoo, Michigan. This spill was particularly noteworthy because it involved tar sands oil, which is the same type of oil that would flow through the Keystone pipeline.

Tar sands is much harder to clean up than standard crude, which is one of the reasons the spill took nearly one billion dollars and several years to fully clean up.

Mr. Speaker, despite numerous assurances that Keystone XL will be safer and that risk of a spill will be minimal, safer simply does not equal safe.

That’s why we have the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, to ensure that the oil companies that create these messes also must pay to clean them up.

This Trust Fund is financed by an 8-cents-per-barrel excise fee on crude oil and petroleum products.

But TransCanada is currently not required to contribute to the Trust Fund for Keystone because tar sands oil is not considered crude oil for purposes of the program.

So if there’s a spill, taxpayers and local communities – not those responsible – could be stuck with the cleanup bill.

That’s why I’m offering this straightforward amendment.

My amendment would simply require TransCanada to certify that it will pay the same per-barrel fee for its tar sands oil as it does for its regular crude.

It would ensure that TransCanada – and not taxpayers – pay to clean up its own mess in the event of a spill.

I’ve offered this amendment several times before, both in Committee and here on the floor, so the Majority should be quite familiar with the issue.

In fact, the Majority has assured us on several occasions that they would work with us and the Ways and Means Committee to resolve this issue.

Yet, the Majority has failed to even propose a meaningful solution, let alone bring one to the floor for a vote.

Mr. Speaker, this is a straightforward issue that should have bipartisan support.

If we’re going to bear 100 percent of the risk of spill from the Keystone pipeline, the least we can do is ensure those who are responsible pay to clean it up.

I urge my colleagues to adopt my amendment to protect American taxpayers and hold oil companies accountable.

I yield back.

— Chris Meagher is a press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps.

 

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