[Congressional Record Volume 161, Number 11 (Thursday, January 22, 2015)]
[Pages S367-S368]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                           KEYSTONE PIPELINE

  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, let me join the majority leader in saying 
that I think we are in a healthy environment on the floor of the Senate 
where we are pursuing amendments and active debate, and it is great to 
see that happening. The only way that happens in the U.S. Senate is 
when the majority and the minority both work for it to happen. The 
rules of the Senate are constructed, as we both know well, so that 
literally any one Senator can stop the process. But the good-will and 
good-faith efforts of Senators on both sides of the aisle have really 
brought us to a good moment here.
  I wish to commend especially the leaders on the floor for this 
legislation, Senator Murkowski of Alaska on the Republican side, and on 
our side Senator Maria Cantwell and Senator Barbara Boxer. The two of 
them, in an extraordinary show of cooperation, have been able to work 
together to process amendments.
  The fact is we voted on nine amendments so far on this Keystone 
Pipeline measure. We have eight amendments pending today. So there is a 
good-faith effort on both sides to call up these important amendments 
with fairness to

[[Page S368]]

both sides of the aisle. I want to see that continue.
  I hope no one believes we are finished with eight amendments. We are 
not. There are other important amendments to be considered. Members 
have brought them to the attention of both sides, and I hope as quickly 
as we can that we will schedule them for consideration and a vote and 
move forward.
  Yesterday, what was fascinating was the fact that we branched off 
from this conversation about the Keystone Pipeline itself and the 
jobs--35 permanent jobs--that will be created for this Canadian 
corporation and started talking about some underlying, critically 
important issues. We spent a great deal of time on the floor discussing 
the environmental impact not just of the pipeline but of the Canadian 
tar sands which will be brought by the pipeline, if it is approved, 
into the United States for processing.
  It is interesting what we have learned so far during the course of 
this debate. When the Democrats insisted that this pipeline's product--
the oil that is refined and used for consumption--be sold in the United 
States, the Republicans voted no. The Republicans voted no. I have a 
lengthy memo on my desk of all of the Republican Senators who have come 
to the floor insisting that the Keystone Pipeline was going to create 
more gasoline, more diesel fuel, and help the American economy. Yet, 
when Senator Markey of Massachusetts offered an amendment to say keep 
the products coming from the Keystone Pipeline in the United States, 
the Republicans, to a person, voted no.
  Then Senator Franken came forward and said, Well, let's agree that if 
this is about jobs in America that the Keystone Pipeline will use 
American steel. That seems reasonable to me, and I voted for it. The 
Republicans voted no. They defeated the notion that we would use 
American steel to build this pipeline.
  This pipeline is Senate Bill 1 for the Senate Republicans. It is 
their highest priority. One would think that if it truly is a jobs 
bill, they would want American steel to be used to build the pipeline; 
let our steel mills build this pipeline in the future, create the jobs 
in America, and they voted no.
  Yesterday I offered an amendment as well. We know at the end of this 
pipeline, if tar sands reach the United States through this means or 
otherwise, it is a pretty nasty process taking the tar and sand out of 
the oil, and what is left over is a nasty product known as petcoke.
  Petcoke is now being stored in three-story-high piles in the city of 
Chicago. I have seen it. And the city is trying to get to the point 
where it is at least contained and covered. Yet, the company that owns 
it, which incidentally is a company owned by the Koch brothers--what an 
irony--this company has resisted the idea of covering these petcoke 
piles, so this nasty black substance blows through the community in 
southeast Chicago. The city of Chicago is in a battle.
  I tried to put in an effort yesterday so that we would establish 
standards for transportation and storage of petcoke, and the 
Republicans insisted it was a benign substance, it isn't hazardous, not 
dangerous, don't worry about it. If some of the Senators who voted 
against my amendment, tomorrow, God forbid, face this issue in their 
community, I think they will have a little different view of petcoke 
and what it can do to people, the impact it has on respiratory disease 
and asthma.
  Yesterday I didn't prevail. But I can tell my colleagues how over the 
years, as I fought the tobacco companies and they insisted there was 
nothing dangerous about tobacco, I heard those arguments from industry 
just as we are hearing the petcoke arguments from the petcoke industry. 
Ultimately, good sense prevailed, public health prevailed, and we moved 
toward regulation of tobacco products. We should do the same--basic 
regulation--to protect the public from any negative impact on their 
health relative to petcoke.
  The amendments continue today. Some of them are extraordinarily 
important. I hope we will continue to move toward the completion of 
this task in an orderly manner. I commend not only the leadership on 
the majority side, but I commend my colleagues too. We found over the 
past many years that the process of amendment would break down when one 
Republican Senator would stand up and say, I won't let any amendment be 
considered until my amendment is considered, No. 1. It even reached a 
point where Republican Senators would say, I won't let any amendment be 
considered unless I am guaranteed my amendment will pass. Well, when 
people take unreasonable positions and threaten filibusters, we break 
down the amendment process.
  We have tried, now being in the minority, to be more constructive, 
and we have reached that goal so far this week. I hope we continue to 
aspire to it and I hope we can wrap this bill up next week in an 
orderly manner.