Opinion Pieces

Voting Against the Keystone Pipeline

Washington, January 14, 2015
Congressional lawmakers face many difficult votes over the course of their careers. Thankfully, with the help of my excellent staff, many advisors, and countless engaged constituents I know that I will have all the advice I need to make the decisions that are best for the 8th District, Virginia, and the country.

While I know that I will spend a great deal of time deliberating on such votes, the vote on whether or not to authorize the building of the Keystone XL pipeline was easy.
Our planet is changing in dangerous and potentially catastrophic ways. Nine of the ten warmest years on record have been in the 21st century. Experts predict that, if we don’t act soon, our planet will warm eight degrees Fahrenheit within a century, which will in turn cause a sea level rise of three to six feet.

An additional three to six feet of water would mean disaster for our Commonwealth. Historic sites like the Old Town Waterfront, one of the most beautiful places in our district, would be threatened by rising tides; as would locations further south in Fairfax County, across the river in Washington, D.C., and throughout Virginia’s coastal regions. Already, Defense Department facilities in Hampton Roads are dealing with the challenges posed by rising sea levels.

The tragic effects of sea level rise would be felt far past the confines of Old Town and Virginia’s coastal areas. Some estimate that this seemingly small increase in global sea level could displace millions of coastal residents around the world, many of them from low income areas.

I voted against the construction of the Keystone pipeline because I plan to use the power and platform of my office to fight the devastating effects and causes of climate change. One piece of this is facing the reality that is our addiction to fossil fuels.
This proposal to build a 2,000 mile pipeline across the United States to invest in the dirtiest of all fossil fuels takes us two steps back when we so desperately need to be moving forward. We need to be pursuing options that lower our dependence on the extraction industry and lessen our carbon footprint.

Ninety-seven percent of climate experts say the warming of the earth is due to human activity. We must change the way we live and do business. We can start by changing our focus from the short-term acquisition of fossil fuels to future energy independence based on new and innovative clean energy solutions.

We have a responsibility to leave a clean and healthy planet to our children and our grandchildren. I honored my commitment to do just that with this vote.