Democratic Party presses Tim Griffin on pipeline issues | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Democratic Party presses Tim Griffin on pipeline issues

Posted By on Tue, Jul 30, 2013 at 1:10 PM

PIPELINE RECORD QUESTIONED: Tim Griffin (with Tom Cotton) used his pipeline advocacy as campaign prop in 2012. Now, Democratic Party says hes gone easy on industry, to detriment of residents.
  • PIPELINE RECORD QUESTIONED: Tim Griffin (with Tom Cotton) used his pipeline advocacy as campaign prop in 2012. Now, Democratic Party says he's gone easy on industry, to detriment of residents.

The Arkansas Democratic Party doesn't plan to let Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin became a born-again environmentalist without a fight.

Griffin, an outspoken defender of pipeline construction, has in more recent days been casting himself as a defender of Mayflower residents harmed by the Pegasus pipeline break. He has, however, refused to release all the data he's received about the pipeline break. And he still faces a difficult balancing act challenging ExxonMobil, which has given him campaign money, and assuring the rest of the country about the conduct of those energy companies that want to build the Keystone XL pipeline.

Today, the Democratic Party called on both Exxon AND Griffin to release information in their possession.

“The victims of the Mayflower spill deserve transparency and accountability, but both Exxon and Congressman Griffin are refusing to come clean with Mayflower residents,” said Candace Martin of the Democratic Party of Arkansas. “Instead of trying to deflect blame and waging a public relations campaign, Congressman Griffin needs to explain his repeated votes against pipeline safety measures which were designed to prevent disasters like the Mayflower Oil spill.”

Congressman Griffin has repeatedly voted to keep dramatic cuts to pipeline and hazardous material safety programs, and has also opposed requiring oil companies like Exxon to have disaster plans for cleanup and containment in case of an event like the Mayflower spill. Now, months after the spill, “Exxon is still calling the shots, many Mayflower homeowners are still unable to return home and Mayflower residents “are still feeling negative health effects of the spill.”

The Democratic Party, too, highlighted Griffin's legislative record, notably including cuts to safety programs and against efforts to require more of companies responsible for spills. More from the party follows:

Congressman Griffin has repeatedly voted to keep dramatic cuts to pipeline and hazardous material safety programs, and has also opposed requiring oil companies like Exxon to have disaster plans for cleanup and containment in case of an event like the Mayflower spill. Now, months after the spill, “Exxon is still calling the shots, many Mayflower homeowners are still unable to return home and Mayflower residents “are still feeling negative health effects of the spill.”

BACKGROUND:

Congressman Griffin Repeatedly Voted to Keep Cuts to Pipeline Safety. In 2013, Griffin voted to keep federal sequester cuts impacting pipeline safety. The Office of Management and Budget reported that in FY 2013, the federal sequester would make the cuts to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, including: $5 million from pipeline safety, $1 million from emergency preparedness grants, $1 million from Trust Fund Share of Pipeline Safety, and $2 million from hazardous materials safety. For FY 2014, the federal sequester would cut $2 million from PHMSA’s emergency preparedness grants. [H Con Res 25, Vote #88, 3/21/13; HR 115, Vote #82, 3/19/13; OMB FY 2014 Report, 5/20/13; OMB FY 2013 Report, 3/01/13]

Congressman Griffin Voted Against Requiring Companies Have a Disaster Plan for Oil Spills. In 2011, Griffin voted against an amendment that required oil and gas companies to have contingency plans for worst-case scenarios, including plans for oil containment and cleanup, when applying for 5-year oil and gas off-shore permits. [The Hill,5/11/11; Congressional Record, 5/11/11; HR 1231, Vote #315, 5/11/11]

Congressman Griffin Voted Against Requiring Pipeline Builders Pay Their Fair Share for Oil Spills. In May 2013, Griffin voted against requiring TransCanada, the developer of the Keystone XL pipeline to contribute a portion of their revenue per barrel into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. Companies that transport oil are required to pay 8-cents per barrel into the trust fund, used by the federal government to respond to oil spills. Oil sands crude is currently exempt from making contributions to the Liability Trust Fund. [HR 3, Vote #178, 5/22/13]

Pipeline that Burst in Mayflower Had a History of Leaks. “Federal agency accident records show that the ExxonMobil pipeline that spilled thousands of gallons of oil near Little Rock in March has had at least 13 minor leaks since 2002. The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration documents, obtained by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette through a Freedom of Information Act request, indicate that corrosion caused six of those leaks […] Reports from the pipeline agency also show that ExxonMobil was fined $26,200 in 2010 for not inspecting a section of the pipeline beneath the Mississippi River between Missouri and Illinois within the five-year time frame required by federal regulations.” [Associated Press, 7/03/13]

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