Regarding Oil Exports, Sen. Schumer Confounds during Face the Nation Interview

by William Yeatman on January 5, 2015

in Blog

surely, this is the Koch bros' fault

surely, this is the Koch bros’ fault

As is almost always the case, the Sunday morning political talkies omitted mention of climate change, the greatest, most terrible, apocalyptic threat of all time. All four of the major shows did, however, give extensive mention to the Keystone XL Pipeline, either during direct interviews (e.g., with Sen. John Barrasso on NBC’s Meet the Press) or in group segments (a la ABC This Week’s Powerhouse Roundtable). Of all the Keystone mentions, the most perplexing was lent by Sen. Charles Schumer, on CBS’s Face the Nation. Below, I’ve punched up a transcript of the pertinent exchange. And at the bottom of this blog, I’ve reposted video of the entire interview.

Bob Schieffer: We understand the first thing the Republicans are going to do is pass Keystone XL legislation…what do you see happening there?

Sen. Schumer: well look, our republican colleagues say that this is a jobs bill, but that’s really not true at all. By most estimates, it would create several thousand temporary construction jobs, and on 35—35!— permanent jobs. Compare that to the number of jobs created in the economy last month 300,000. So democrats are dubious of this. But we’re going to introduce amendments that will make this more of a jobs bill. We’re going to introduce an amendment to say that the steel used in the pipeline, should be made in America, to make American jobs. We’re going to introduce an amendment that says that the oil that’s used in the pipeline will have to be used in America. Imagine building a pipeline that ships Canadian oil across America to be exported to other countries. Uhhh.. from Texas..that makes no sense at all in terms of the American working people’s interests. So we’re going to say that the oil should stay here. And finally, we’re going to add an amendment to introduce clean energy jobs…[Formatting added]

This is quite interesting. According to FedEx, Schumer’s New York is the #3 exporting State in the U.S. Its top two exports, per U.S. Census Bureau data, are gold and diamonds. Pursuant to Sen. Schumer’s logic, the “American working people’s interests” would be best served if the U.S. Congress banned exports of gold and diamonds from New York, right? Why can New York benefit from exporting a raw material (gold) and a processed raw material (cut diamonds), but North Dakota shouldn’t benefit from the export of a raw material (oil) nor Texas benefit from exporting a processed raw material (refined gasoline)? Sen. Schumer’s inconsistent position makes no sense, other than to serve himself a cake for having and consuming.

In any case, the senior Senator from New York ended the interview by cynically conceding that even were his laundry list of amendments to pass, he would still oppose legislation that facilitates the Keystone XL pipeline, a project supported by 2/3 of Americans:

Bob Schieffer:  So, even if these amendments pass, then you would still urge the President to veto this legislation

Sen. Schumer: Well, yes…we need a much different energy policy.

This parting exchange requires two comments.

  • First, it is noteworthy that Senate Republican leadership will allow Democrats to offer amendments to begin with. This is a practice that was eschewed by Sen. Majority Leader Reid. While I’m over political parties, I wholeheartedly support taking votes on amendments. The more the merrier.
  • Second, Sen. Schumer is absolutely wrong about the need for “a new energy policy.” We don’t need a new energy policy, because our existing one is kicking tail. As was recently articulated aptly by Platts Director of News John Kingston, on the penultimate episode of the sorely missed Platts Energy Week with Bill Loveless, America’s de facto energy policy—the recognition of subsurface property rights—has worked brilliantly in bringing about innovation. All we need is for the green zealots and central planners to get out of the way.


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