Congressman Peter Welch has voted against legislation that would authorize the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
The Keystone pipeline issue came before the U.S. House on Friday and was approved by a vote of 252 to 161.
The State Department is currently reviewing this proposal because it would bring oil sands from Canada to refineries in the southern part of the United States.
President Obama is expected to announce his position on the proposed pipeline in the next few weeks.
Congressman Peter Welch voted against the bill. Welch says the project will do little to help this country become more energy independent because virtually all of the oil is going to be shipped overseas:
“This is for export. It would go down to the Gulf Coast; it would be refined and it would be shipped abroad,” said Welch. “And, by the way, on energy independence, the U.S. is a net exporter of petroleum products now so we’ve come a long way. And our production is the highest it’s been in decades.”
Welch acknowledges that the pipeline project, which would run from Canada to Louisiana, would create thousands of construction jobs. But Welch says the short term benefit of these jobs is outweighed by the long term environmental costs associated with the project.
“I have major concerns about the tar sands oil because all of the evidence indicates that that is the most polluting oil that we can get,” said Welch. “We use immense amounts of energy to get it out. It would go down the pipeline to the Gulf Coast, from which it would be exported.”
Welch says he’s also concerned that the legislation exempts pipeline builder Trans Canada from putting any money into a special contingency clean-up fund.
“And all of our American companies that are doing some of these projects that do get approved they have to make contributions to a mitigation fund. Because we know, as much as people do their best efforts to avoid this, we have spills,” said Welch. “And why would we give an exemption to Trans Canada from the permits and then from paying into the mitigation fund?”
The measure now goes to the Senate for its consideration. That vote is expected to take place next week but it’s not clear if supporters have enough votes to block a filibuster on the bill.