As Panel Takes up Pipeline Bill, Sanders Asks Senators to Think of their Grandchildren

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 – As a Senate panel today took up a proposal to build a controversial oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, Sen. Bernie Sanders warned that drilling more of the dirtiest oil on the planet would fuel global warming.

“The Keystone XL pipeline is not going to be forgotten by our children and our grandchildren who 30 or 40 years from now are going to be asking us, ‘What were you guys thinking about? What were you doing? Did you not hear what the scientific community all over the world was saying, that climate change is the most serious environmental crisis facing this planet?”

The Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted to send to the full Senate a bill to clear the way for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta’s tar sands region to refineries in Texas. The legislation faces a veto threat from the White House.

Sanders said he was disappointed that every Republican on the committee and one Democrat voted to table his amendment which would have had the Senate go on record recognizing the threat of global warming and the need to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels.

“Virtually without exception, what the scientists are saying is climate change is real, climate change is caused by carbon emissions and human activity, climate change is already causing devastating problems in the United States and around the world,” Sanders said at the outset of the hearing.

“I am very worried about the United States Congress turning its back on science, turning its back on those people who tell us that we have got to cut carbon emissions rather than give a green light for the exploration and the production of some of the dirtiest oil on this planet. I think frankly that is crazy. I think we are moving in exactly the wrong direction,” Sanders said.

U.S. taxpayers already are paying for the consequences of climate change, Sanders said. As recently as 2012, a devastating and powerful storm, Hurricane Sandy, caused $60 billion in damage. “If we don't get our act together and start reversing climate change we're going to have more extreme weather disturbances,” he said.

“I hope very much that we get our act together, transform our energy system, move to energy efficiency, move to weatherization, move to solar, geothermal and other sustainable energies,” Sanders added.