Northern Route Approval Act

Floor Speech

Date: May 22, 2013
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Oil and Gas


Mr. BISHOP of New York. Mr. Speaker, the Bishop-Capps amendment is the final amendment to the bill. It will not kill the bill or send it back to committee. If adopted, the bill will immediately proceed to final passage as amended.

Our amendment, which is similar to amendments offered during our committee markups of H.R. 3, corrects a massive loophole in current law that exempts Keystone XL pipeline tar sands from paying millions of dollars into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

Unlike U.S. crude oil companies, tar sands importers will not pay into the Oil Spill Trust Fund, even though the Trust Fund will be used to pay for any cleanup costs from an oil spill on the Keystone XL pipeline.

That's right. The Keystone XL pipeline, and all other tar sands importers, get all of the protections of the fund if they have an oil spill, but they do not have to pay a dime into it up front.

As we have seen during the Keystone debate on this floor, we can argue over the merits of tar sands oil and we can argue over the merits of granting special permit waivers to TransCanada to build the Keystone pipeline.

However, I would hope that we could all agree that this Congress should not allow the importers of Keystone pipeline tar sands to avoid the per barrel charge that all other oil companies pay to finance the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

In 2011, the Internal Revenue Service concluded that the definitions of ``crude oil'' and ``petroleum product'' in the Tax Code do not clearly include tar sands. This interpretation, if allowed to stand, exempts the Keystone XL pipeline tar sands from the excise tax that finances the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. In short, this is a $66,000 per day tax break.

I am sure that some of my Republican colleagues will argue that H.R. 3 is not the appropriate vehicle for making this change to the law, that we should not single out Keystone XL pipeline, and that Congress should consider this change as a part of comprehensive tax reform.

To my colleagues across the aisle, I would argue that this entire bill is about singling out the Keystone XL pipeline, providing special rules and deeming permits approved for everything anyone can think of.

Our amendment will ensure that TransCanada certifies to the President that Keystone XL pipeline tar sands will be subject to the per barrel excise tax that funds the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, ensuring that they pay their fair share.