Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the House and Senate GOP plan to attach an amendment forcing the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to a completely unrelated piece of legislation. This time around, it’s the transportation bill that is getting the Keystone amendment. While killing the worst transportation bill ever offered wouldn’t be a total tragedy, the GOP’s continued attempts to force through the pipeline at any cost is starting to get old.
We’ve discussed all the reasons the Keystone XL pipeline should be rejected. Among the many: the pipeline is not a job creator, the environmental consequences of the pipeline will be disastrous, and it will do little to bring us closer to energy independence. Adding to this list, the claims of reinvigorating the steel industry seem to be false. Just last week, Representative Mike Doyle challenged TransCanada to certify its claim that 75 percent of the steel would come from North America because he had discovered that 148 miles of the pipeline had already been constructed in India.
Meanwhile, the real job creator is continually ignored. A new report details how investments in clean energy and environmental sustainability resulted in one of the few sectors to report job growth during a time of overall job loss. While the total number of jobs created dropped by one percent in 2007-2008, green jobs grew during that same time period by five percent.
Partisanship is the reason for constant gridlock in Congress. One exception has been the issue of transportation. NRDC is on the record — analyzing and critiquing yet supporting — the bipartisan federal transportation bill that passed the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Passage of that bill through committee was made possible by the collaboration of two leaders diametrically opposed on the partisan spectrum: Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK). Boxer and Inhofe cobbled together a two-year transportation bill called
MAP-21, and while it is far from perfect it includes some advances in transportation policy. Better yet is the Senate Commerce Committee’s addition to the bill, which includes provisions that would benefit our environment.
This is a stark contrast with the House of Representatives, which is rolling out its uniquely terrible bill in pieces this week. The first thing to note is that to pay for the transportation bill, the House is taking the unprecedented step of marking up three drilling bills in the Natural Resources Committee. One opens Alaska’s Arctic National Arctic Refuge to drilling; another would actually require new drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts (including more drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, which is still recovering from the disastrous BP oil spill); and another opens millions of acres in the western U.S. to oil shale development. These bills would damage some of America’s most pristine natural resources, and as I’ve written about many times before they would do nothing to boost the nation’s energy independence.