The McConnell-Boehner Congress this week lobbed fewer public interest attacks than in its first couple of weeks – likely because Monday’s holiday and Tuesday’s State of the Union address kept them otherwise engaged – but the U.S. Senate did bring upon itself a good dose of ridicule by debating whether human activity is causing climate change. Forty-nine GOP senators, bucking what 97 percent of scientists say, said “no.”
What public interest assaults are coming next week? Here’s what we know about so far. Please contact us if you have questions.
• Senate lawmakers will try to fast track the export of liquefied natural gas (LNG). The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee holds a hearing on Jan. 29 on the LNG Permitting Certainty and Transparency Act (PDF) (S. 33). The measure would limit the time the Department of Energy has to consider applications to export liquefied natural gas. There are multiple problems with expediting the export of LNG. For instance, it could lead to higher natural gas prices, harming consumers who rely on it. Prioritizing LNG exports would help the fracking industry at the expense of the rest of the economy. And it appears as though exporting LNG is counter to a 1975 law.
• The Senate likely will vote on a bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. If this bill succeeds, it will mean higher gasoline prices for U.S. motorists. The purpose of the Keystone pipeline is to take landlocked tar sands oil to the export-oriented refineries of the Gulf Coast, refine the low-grade oil and then ship the product to world markets.
The pipeline would transport the dirtiest oil in the world across America’s largest freshwater aquifer, risking a major oil spill and causing dangerous pollutants to be released into the air during the refining process. A 2013 Public Citizen report questioned the safety of Keystone XL’s Texas segment, documenting anomalies that could lead to spills or leaks.