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Senate GOP's 'energy independence' plan includes imported oil from Canada

Every Republican senator voted against President Joe Biden’s plan to invest $555 billion in clean energy and combating climate change.

By Josh Israel - March 08, 2022
Marsha Blackburn

Senate Republicans are touting their plan for American “energy independence” as their solution to higher oil and gas prices while demanding the United States revive the dangerous Keystone XL pipeline project to import tar sands oil from Canada.

Gasoline prices — which dipped to $1.80 in some places during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown — have been rising steadily since the U.S. economy started to rebound in the fall of 2020 and demand has risen. In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and President Joe Biden’s decision to halt the import of Russian oil in response, gas prices have soared to more than $4 per gallon.

Republican lawmakers, who were already blaming Biden for the price increase, seized on the news to demand unfettered fossil fuel drilling in the United States.

“A NEW RECORD,” tweeted the Senate Republican conference on Tuesday. “The national average price of gas is $4.173/gallon. This problem is not going away. We need American energy independence now.”

Last year, Biden proposed a $555 billion investment in clean energy and combating climate change as part of his Build Back Better plan. Had it become law, the process of moving away from fossil fuel dependence would already have been underway — but every Republican senator opposed the package.

Now, as Senate Republicans demand enough drilling at home to allow total energy independence, they are also proposing that the country import more oil from Canada.

“Americans need energy independence provided by the Keystone XL Pipeline, not pipe dreams that keep us dependent on foreign oil,” urged Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC).

“Energy prices are skyrocketing because Joe Biden has made America less energy independent,” complained Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). “Build the Keystone Pipeline.”

“In the face of Russian aggression in Ukraine, I joined @LindseyGrahamSC & colleagues demanding @POTUS reclaims American energy independence by approving the Keystone Pipeline & opening federal lands to energy producers to increase U.S. energy production,” tweeted Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL).

The canceled Keystone XL pipeline proposal would have built a 1,200-mile pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. The corporation behind the plan hoped to send tar sands oil — which environmentalists say is an especially environmentally damaging energy source and more likely to leak and spill than conventional oil — from Alberta, Canada, to Gulf Coast oil refineries. Much of that refined fuel would then have been reexported.

“This isn’t your grandfather’s typical oil,” Anthony Swift, director of NRDC’s Canada project, warned in January 2021. “It’s nasty stuff.”

Experts have previously argued the pipeline would have done little for American energy independence. Beyond the global shift away from fossil fuels, even keeping all of Keystone XL’s oil for domestic use wouldn’t be energy independence, since Canada is a sovereign nation and not part of the United States.

Last week, Sens. Josh Hawley (R-MO), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), and Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) introduced a bill called the “American Energy Independence Act of 2022” that would override the Biden administration and authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline — while eliminating an array of climate protections and environmental regulations.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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