A day after President Donald Trump signed an executive order reviving the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, a House panel has voted to move forward with a controversial measure that would cut funding for the pipelines.
Keystone, a $5.8 billion project that has become a lightning rod for environmental and Indigenous concerns, is at the center of the debate.
The Trump administration says the pipeline is essential to transporting the nation’s crude oil and is critical to the economy.
Democrats, who argue the pipeline would worsen climate change, say it would damage the environment and pollute the water of the American Midwest.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday voted to advance a bill that would make a $1.5 billion reduction in funding to the federal Energy Department and the State Department to replace or refinance the Keystone and Dakota.
The bill, known as a “stopgap measure,” is aimed at providing $300 million to help build a new pipeline to transport oil from Canada’s oil sands to refineries in Texas, Michigan and other states.
The bill also requires the U.S. Energy Department to spend $100 million annually to maintain the Keystone pipeline, and would allow the agency to transfer up to $2 billion of its own funds to the project.
The panel approved the measure by a vote of 22-14, with Republicans voting against it.
The measure now goes to the House Rules Committee for consideration.
“It’s very clear the president is in the pocket of those who would do harm to the environment, and it’s a bad decision to continue funding this pipeline,” Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) said of the legislation.
Brent Bozell, the director of the energy and climate program at the Center for American Progress, said the move is a “dangerous decision.”
“These cuts would send a signal to America that we’re not going to take any action to protect the environment or the climate,” he said.
“And it will set back the process of making the economy work for our people.”
The legislation would also cut $1 billion from a fund that helps fund the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s climate science programs.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), the ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement that the bill would put the agency’s science on the “fire hose.”
The House voted in June to fund the NOAA for three years at a time.
But the funding is not set to expire until at least 2019.
Bozell said that while the House vote was significant, it is not a victory.
“This is a win for the president, but it is a very small victory, especially when you consider that this is a bipartisan bill,” he told Fox News.
Buzell said the bill is “not about Keystone or Dakota.
This is about jobs and the American economy and our climate.
That’s the core of the bill.”
The Energy and Agriculture Committee is expected to hold a markup of the measure on Thursday.