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Keystone Pipeline Oil Spill Demands Accountability, Says Congressman Garamendi in House Floor Amendment

January 9, 2015
Press Release

Click here for video of Congressman Garamendi speaking on his amendment to close an egregious loophole that puts American taxpayers on the line in the event of a TransCanada oil spill. (Click here for video of full debate on amendment)

WASHINGTON, DC – Today on the House Floor, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA) offered the only amendment allowed to be considered for H.R. 3, a bill to override safety and environmental standards and automatically approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Under current law, oil sands imported into the U.S. are not subject to the excise tax on crude oil that pays for the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which is used to cover the cost of cleanup from a spill. Garamendi’s amendment would require that TransCanada contribute to the Fund.

“If you break it, you buy it, and if you spill oil over the heartland of America, you should pay for its cleanup. In recent years, we have witnessed major pipeline breaks in Michigan, Arkansas, Montana, and North Dakota, spewing oil in these communities. Instead of getting a $24 million-a-year tax break not afforded to other pipeline companies, TransCanada should be held responsible if they put America’s environment and the health of American citizens at risk,” said Congressman Garamendi, former Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior.

In 2010, a pipeline ruptured in Michigan, leaking more than 800,000 gallons of crude into the Kalamazoo River. More than $60 million of the cleanup costs were drawn from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

Passage of Garamendi’s amendment would not have prevented passage of the underlying legislation and would have simply ensured basic accountability. However, the Republican-led House of Representatives failed to adopt this commonsense measure.

The Congressman voted against H.R. 3, which passed the House of Representatives. The Senate is expected to pass similar legislation later this month. However, the President has indicated he would veto the bill, and Congress does not appear to have a super-majority that could override his veto.