What: All Issues : Government Checks on Corporate Power : Oil & Gas Industry : (S. 1) On an amendment to prevent the developer of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline from using eminent domain powers to take land from private property owners who didn’t want to sell it (2015 senate Roll Call 22)
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(S. 1) On an amendment to prevent the developer of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline from using eminent domain powers to take land from private property owners who didn’t want to sell it
senate Roll Call 22     Jan 22, 2015
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss

This vote was on an amendment that would have prevented the developer of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline from using eminent domain powers to take land from private property owners who didn’t want to sell it.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) offered the amendment during consideration of a bill authorizing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline would connect Canada’s “tar sands” oil fields to pipelines in the south central United States and the world market beyond. Sen. Menendez’s amendment would have required TransCanada, the company that wanted to build the project, to obtain land only “from willing sellers and consistently with the Constitution.” This would rule out the use of eminent domain, the power of the government to take private property – even if the owner does not agree to sell it – for a public purpose.

Supporters of Sen. Menendez’s amendment argued that Congress should not put U.S. landowners at risk of having their private land taken away by a Canadian firm.

“I support the pipeline. I think it has a lot of good benefits, but make no mistake about it, if you do not support the Menendez amendment … you will allow a foreign corporation – a foreign corporation – to come in and use eminent domain to take the property,” Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) said. “We don't want to go down this line.”

Opponents of Sen. Menendez’s amendment argued that the underlying bill already included enough protections; it stated that land must be taken “consistently with the Constitution” but did not require that the landowners give their consent. Sen. Menendez’s amendment was simply designed to make it impossible to build the pipeline, they argued.

“The standard being proposed by the senator from New Jersey is an anti-states’ rights amendment, and it is designed to be a poison pill on this Keystone XL pipeline, which he obviously does not support and wants to use every means to kill,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said.

Sen. Menendez’s amendment was defeated by a vote of 43-54. Voting “yea” were 41 Democrats and 2 Republicans. Voting “nay” were 50 Republicans and 4 Democrats. As a result, the Senate defeated the effort to prevent the developer of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline from using eminent domain powers to take land from private property owners who didn’t want to sell it.

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