Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today submitted the following statement into the Congressional Record expressing her opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. The Senate passed a bill to approve the pipeline by a vote of 62-36.
“Mr. President, I rise today to speak in opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline.
This bill will not help our economy, it will not create permanent jobs, and it certainly is not a boon to the environment.
On item after item, the Keystone pipeline just doesn’t make sense for the United States.
When we last debated Keystone in November, the price for a barrel of oil was about $75.
That price was already down from a peak of $100 in 2014, and since then the price has dropped another $25, to less than $50 a barrel.
In November, the average price of gas was nearly $3 per gallon.
This week, gas averages around $2.20 per gallon—the cheapest in nearly six years—and many states are seeing gas under $2 per gallon.
In fact, since this pipeline was first proposed in 2008, America has gone from the third largest producer of oil to the world’s largest producer, surpassing both Russia and Saudi Arabia.
As a result of new production and increasing fuel economy, the final months of 2014 saw the lowest net imports of crude oil since 1986.
The Keystone Pipeline is simply not necessary for America’s energy independence.
Even worse, the oil that moves through the pipeline isn’t necessarily for the benefit the United States. Instead, the pipeline would be a conduit to move the oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, where it will be refined and sold on the global market.
Some individual barrels may be kept in the United States, but much will be exported, and prices will be set by international supply and demand.
The State Department’s review projected that building a pipeline would have “little impact on the prices U.S. consumers pay for refined products such as gasoline.”
I fail to see how the United States gains any economic benefit from this project.
Finally, Keystone supporters often argue that the pipeline creates large numbers of jobs. It’s great that this project will create nearly 2,000 direct construction jobs over two years, and more indirectly. Unfortunately, those jobs are temporary.
That means once the pipeline is complete in two years, operating the pipeline will support only around 50 permanent jobs.
• The American economy won’t benefit from this bill.
• American companies won’t benefit.
• American drivers won’t benefit.
• And American workers won’t benefit.
Mr. President, the economic policies behind the pipeline just don’t make sense.
Unfortunately, the problems also don’t end with the lack of economic value. This project also comes with substantial hazards for the environment.
Extracting oil from these tar sands would essentially mean the destruction of huge swaths of land in Alberta.
The tar sands are beneath 54,000 square miles of boreal forest and peat bog, an area the size of the state of New York.
An estimated 20 percent of the deposits require destructive surface mining, which entails clearing huge swathes of boreal forest and top soil to get at the tar sands beneath. Already, 175,000 acres of forest have been cleared, but an additional 1 million acres of forest have already been leased for surface mining operations.
This destructive form of mining generates large volumes of toxic waste water which must be stored in vast tailings ponds that already cover around 70 square miles.
These tailings contain high concentrations of benzene and other carcinogens, as well as lead and mercury. Significantly higher levels of these pollutants have been found downstream from tar sands refineries, leading to higher rates of cancers including leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The development of these tar sands will have negative effects on the environment and public health, and it has also contributed significantly to Canada’s failure to fulfill its Kyoto Protocol obligations.
I believe that Canada should rethink its approach to tar sands development.
Finally I would like to address climate change.
No matter how hard some of my colleagues hope climate change isn’t real, it is. And we’re already seeing harmful effects.
Transforming the oil from tar sands into useful gasoline is 80 percent more carbon-intensive than the processing of typical crude oil.
Producing, refining and combusting the oil that Keystone would carry will release up to 168 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year.
That’s 27 million metric tons more greenhouse gas emissions than would be emitted from burning the same amount of typical crude oil.
To put this in context, those additional emissions over normal processing are equivalent to the annual emissions from 5.7 million cars, 1.4 million homes or nearly 8 coal-fired power plants.
Mr. President, the economics of the Keystone pipeline don’t make sense, and the environmental risks could well be tragic.
We are being asked to approve a project that will primarily benefit Canadian companies and foreign oil markets, while at the same time accepting the consequences of the harm the pipeline and tar sands oil would create.
If this is about jobs, let’s invest in clean energy. The Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill, for example, is estimated to create 190,000 jobs.
If our goal is to lower fuel costs for American families, let’s speed up improvements to fuel economy standards.
If we want to modernize our infrastructure, let’s get to work on a real transportation reauthorization bill.
And if our aim is to exploit our energy resources, let’s focus on wind and solar, biofuels, or the future of batteries and fuel cells.
Mr. President, we can do better than the Keystone pipeline, both for our economy and for the environment.
I encourage my colleagues to vote no on the Keystone pipeline, and I yield the floor.”