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Feb. 7 Hearings a Mixed Bag; House Republicans Show their True Colors

A column by Jennifer S. Baker about Feb. 7 Keystone XL hearings.

In an open executive session of the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday, Sen. Orin Hatch (R-UT) withdrew his amendment to the Senate proposed highway legislation after meeting resistance from Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) on the grounds that it was not relevant to that particular legislation. Hatch's amendment would have tacked on S.2041, automatically authorizing construction and operation of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee, on the other hand, approved H.R.3548 and forwarded the bill on to the full House for consideration. H.R. 3548, if passed, would require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) to approve a permit for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, no questions asked, within 30 days after receiving an application from TransCanada/Keystone.

Also noteworthy from today's activities in the House, the Energy and Commerce Committee rejected an amendment from Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) prohibiting oil companies from exporting petroleum products produced from tar sands oil imported via the proposed Keystone XL pipeline—unless such prohibition would increase our dependence on foreign oil or increase costs to refiners or gasoline consumers. 29 Republicans and 14 Democrats voted against this measure to keep the oil in the U.S. for domestic use; only eight votes (all Democrat) were cast in favor of the proposal.

If one of the two primary arguments touted by Keystone XL proponents is that the pipeline would increase U.S. energy security (a position strongly advocated by Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE), the sponsor of the bill, and Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), the Speaker of the House), why did they flat-out reject a provision that would do exactly that?

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In addition, an amendment proffered by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) that would have prevented TransCanada/Keystone from taking private land without landowner consent through eminent domain was shot down by a voice vote - showing that a significant majority of the Committee disapproved of the measure. The Committee effectively opted to allow the subsidiary of a foreign corporation to evict American citizens against their will from their own property under color of law.

Our so-called "representatives" ... showing their true colors.

Jennifer S. Baker is an associate attorney at Smith, Shelton & Ragona, LLC, in Westminster, Colorado.