ExxonMobil’s recent oil spill dumped some 200,000 gallons into Mayflower, Arkansas, killed wildlife, and caused 22 homes to be evacuated. As the Natural Resources committee takes up another bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) argued at a hearing that the spill is more evidence the Keystone XL pipeline is a safe bet for Americans.
Comparing the safety of a pipeline to other transportation methods, Mullin said there is no reason to make a “big deal” about the spill:
“Would we really rather ship oil across the oceans? You’re talking about a catastrophe, we’re buying the oil. The percentages of barrels that are shipped daily from rail, from road, and from water the accidents versus the pipeline accidents, it’s a fraction. Your group is making a big deal about this ExxonMobil spill? I think Exxon should be patted on the back for the way they handled this. Yes this was horrible, yes we don’t like to see it, but they handled it. They did a great job handling it. I think they showed an example of what could be done when a catastrophe happens.
In fact, Exxon has been heavily criticized for its public dismissal of the harm and scope of the spill. And thanks to a technicality, the company can avoid paying taxes toward the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund — an exemption that applies to most tar sands crude.
Mullin also claimed the pipeline would reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, which he linked to acts like the Boston Marathon bombing. “I mean, would we rather buy oil from the Middle East that sponsors the acts that we see like at the Marathon that we just saw yesterday?” he said. “I don’t know if that was actually sponsored by them or not but that’s the acts that they support.” Setting aside his sheer speculation over the cause of the tragedy at Boston, Mullin’s claims about reducing foreign oil dependence just don’t add up. Keystone XL guarantees more oil is shipped overseas, not less: The pipeline moves Canadian oil across the U.S. straight to the Gulf of Mexico, where it is refined and then exported. A Department of Energy analysis noted that Keystone XL will have virtually no impact on Middle East imports.
For the record, oil and gas companies rank among the freshman congressman’s largest donors.