Congressman Bobby Rush

Representing the 1st District of Illinois

Rush Floor Statement in Support of his Amendment to the Keystone XL Pipeline Act, Title 14 of the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012

Feb 15, 2012
Press Release

CONTACT: Renee Ferguson
(773) 224-6500 ofc.; (202) 674-0891 mobile
Renee.Ferguson@mail.house.gov

WASHINGTON – Congressman Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) introduced an amendment to the Keystone XL Pipeline Act, Title 14 of the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012 today.  The Keystone XL Pipeline Act would expedite the permit for the Pipeline.  Rush’s amendment seeks to protect property owners from losing their land through the abusive use of eminent domain laws in connection with Keystone pipeline construction.  Rush made the following statement from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives:

Mr. Chairman, why is it that the proponents of this bill are smiling and smirking while walking around this Capitol?

It's because this bill requires the hasty approval of an unprecedented permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.  They're smiling and smirking because their friends, the Big Oil companies, are big winners with this bill while the little people, the private property owners along the path of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, will be the big losers.

Mr. Chairman, people might be surprised to learn that TransCanada has been bullying the American people—American landowners—and has been pressuring them to allow the company to build a pipeline through their land.  In fact, during the subcommittee hearing, we heard testimony from witnesses who live along the path near the proposed route of this pipeline that TransCanada is doing just that—bullying them.  They don't even have a permit to build the pipeline, yet we are told that they are threatening American citizens with eminent domain, basically telling people, If you don't give us access to your land, if you don't give us your land, then we're going to take it.

Mr. Chairman, this is wrong.  This is wrong.  This is wrong.  Why are we rewarding a private foreign company that is trying to intimidate and coerce American citizens with this regulatory earmark?

In order to protect private property owners along the path of this pipeline, I am offering an amendment that will restrict the use of eminent domain.  My amendment requires that a permit for this pipeline would only be issued if it prohibits the use of eminent domain to take someone's private property against his will.

Mr. Chairman, my office was in contact with a Nebraska rancher by the name of Randy Thompson, who wrote me a letter dated February 9, and I want to read an excerpt of it for my colleagues.

He wrote:

"Dear Congressman Rush, I would like to express to you, sir, my concerns about the bill introduced by Representative Terry to fast-forward the permitting process for the Keystone XL pipeline.  It seems inherently wrong to me that a foreign corporation can actually force American citizens to forfeit their individual property rights through the use of eminent domain.  With the denial of a permit, TransCanada has, for the time being, suspended their land acquisition process in the State of Nebraska.  I can assure you, however, that they will be back on our doorsteps with a vengeance once a new route has been determined and a permit has been granted.  It appears to me that some Members of Congress are all too eager to subsidize the Big Oil companies, not only with our tax dollars, but now with land that belongs to American citizens."

Mr. Chairman, we have a duty to protect our citizens from being bullied into giving up their land against their will for the gain of private foreign companies.  Let us wipe the smiles and the smirks off the faces of the proponents of this bill.  Pass this amendment. Protect the American people.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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