This was a vote on an amendment that would have required oil imported through the controversial Keystone XL pipeline to be used in the United States.
Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) offered the amendment to a Republican bill that would override President Obama’s denial of a permit to build the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would connect the oil-rich “tar sands” of Alberta, Canada, to markets in the United States.
Supporters of the pipeline argued that it would help make the United States less dependent on foreign sources of oil. Rep. Markey argued that the pipeline would actually be used to send the oil to the Gulf of Mexico, where it could be sold on international markets. The only way to ensure it was used to strengthen American energy independence would be to require that oil imported through the pipeline stays in the United States, he said.
“It appears right now that if this pipeline is built, it will be for the purpose of transporting tar sands oil from Canada down to Houston for refining and then export to Latin America and China. That's very much what is on the mind of many people,” Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) said. “You can't have both – have that pipeline be essentially a conduit for export and claim that it's going to reduce American dependence on overseas oil. This amendment speaks directly to that and it allows those who claim that Keystone will allow us energy independence to guarantee in law that that will happen.“
Republicans argued that if the pipeline was not built, Canada would likely move to sell its oil directly to China and other foreign nations. Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) cited news reports that Canada was preparing to build a pipeline to its own west coast if the Keystone XL pipeline could not be built.
“The reality is if you want this oil to go to China, kill the XL pipeline, the Keystone pipeline, and let this one be built in Canada, which Canada is already preparing to do,” Rep. Terry said.
Rep. Markey’s amendment was defeated by a vote of 173-254. Voting “yea” were 164 Democrats, including a majority of progressives, and 9 Republicans. Voting “nay” were 230 Republicans and 24 Democrats. As a result, the House moved forward with a bill authorizing construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline without a requirement that oil imported through the pipeline be used in the United States.