State delegation explains pipeline votes

By:  Andrew Larson

The state's congressional delegation has unanimously voted against construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

On Tuesday, the Senate voted 59-41 in favor of the oil pipeline — one vote shy of the filibuster-proof majority needed to pass the bill. Forty Democrats voted against the bill, with 14 Democrats joining all 45 Republicans in support of it.

The House of Representatives passed an identical bill for the Keystone XL last week, 252-161. Thirty-one Democrats joined Republicans in supporting the bill.

The 1,179-mile Keystone XL would connect existing crude oil pipelines from Canada to the Gulf Coast. Environmentalists have said it would disturb sensitive areas.

Connecticut's two senators and five congressmen, who are all Democrats, voted against the pipeline. Here's why:

Sen. Christopher S. Murphy — "Our federal energy policies are broken. Doing more of the same — drilling for oil in ever-more hazardous places and ways — is no longer good enough. . . . We need to chart a fundamentally different course when it comes to the sources of energy we use, and the way in which they impact the planet. Rather than endlessly argue about this pipeline, why not focus on where the two parties can agree — like making our homes and businesses more energy efficient, or making our natural gas grid tighter and less leaky."

Sen. Richard Blumenthal — "We must act now to mitigate the devastating impacts of climate change, and prevent future, escalating harm. I believe Keystone XL would be a step backwards. I'll continue to work on these issues in the Senate with the goal of protecting our climate and future generations."

Rep. Elizabeth H. Esty, D-5th District — "I opposed the most recent bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline because the bill gives an unprecedented, across-the-board exemption to a foreign company. The bill mandates federal approval of all construction and operation permits for the Keystone XL pipeline regardless of whether the pipeline meets the requirements of U.S. law and without any safeguards for environmental impact. Additionally, the bill exempts a foreign company, TransCanada Corp., from paying into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which all other crude oil companies, including all U.S. oil companies, are required to pay into. Even supporters of the pipeline should oppose this bill because of the dangerous precedent it would set. Dirty tar sands oil is not the solution for our energy security. We need a comprehensive approach that includes investments in clean energy and energy efficiency to protect our environment, boost our economy, and create jobs."

Rep. James A. Himes, D-4th District — "I opposed this bill because it represented yet another attempt to bypass the comprehensive review process that the Keystone pipeline and other energy infrastructure projects of this magnitude require. Projects of this scale shouldn't be expedited or short-circuited to influence congressional elections in Louisiana or anywhere else. The review process should be allowed to continue and Congress shouldn't let politics interfere."

Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, D-3rd District — "The bill set a dangerous precedent by undermining the administration's authority to ensure Keystone is in our national interest. Further, it exempts Trans Canada from paying into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and effectively exempts it from all federal permitting requirements."

Rep. Joseph D. Courtney, D-2nd District — "At a time when domestic oil production is at an historic high and our dependence on foreign oil is at a low, forcing approval of Keystone is the wrong move for Congress. As the congressman from New London, the site of the Kelo ruling that degraded property rights, I am concerned by the ongoing litigation in Nebraska and South Dakota over use of eminent domain for the pipe's route, and estimates showing that more than half the oil that goes through it will be exported abroad. Congress is not a permitting body, and we should not interfere with the long-standing approval process."

Rep. John B. Larson, D-1st District — "Last week's vote in the House was not about a pipeline, it was about an election for a Senate seat. There is a process in place for federal approval of pipelines such as this and Congress shouldn't short circuit ongoing environmental and safety reviews for a United States Senate seat."