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Vermont Senators Voice Strong Opposition To Keystone XL Pipeline

Sen. Patrick Leahy, the most senior member of the Senate Judiciary committee, is expressing strong concerns about President Trump's new Supreme Court nominee, appeals court judge Brett Kavanaugh
Office of Sen. Patrick Leahy, courtesy
Sen. Patrick Leahy took to the Senate floor on Tuesday to voice his continuing opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, calling it "part of the unquenchable thirst for oil that is destroying our environment."

The U.S. Senate Tuesday night rejected legislation that would have authorized the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Both of Vermont's U.S. senators voted against the bill.

"We feel that this pipeline is part of the unquenchable thirst for oil that is destroying our environment," Senator Patrick Leahy

The $8 billion proposed pipeline is designed to bring oil from the tar sands of Northwest Canada to refineries along the Gulf Coast of the U.S.

Backers of the project say it will create thousands of good paying jobs and help lower oil prices. But Sen. Patrick Leahy views the project very differently.

"I represent what is the view of my fellow constituents in Vermont. We feel that this pipeline is part of the unquenchable thirst for oil that is destroying our environment,”said Leahy. “It leads us to an energy policy of the past." 

Leahy says the pipeline won't help make the country more energy independent because virtually all of the refined oil is going to be exported to China.

"Well, that may be good news for the Chinese, it's not good news for the American people who are stuck with a safety risk, the health challenges, future environmental disasters and so forth,” said Leahy.

Sen. Bernie Sanders opposes the project because he says it will exacerbate many of the issues surrounding climate change.

"And giving the folks up there in northwest Canada the opportunity to produce even more of this dirty oil is exactly what we should not be doing,” said Sanders. “So from a climate change perspective it is absolutely wrong - an absolutely terrible idea." 

Backers of the bill say they plan to bring the issue up once again in January because they feel they will have more support for the project in the new Congress.

Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."
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