Ocasio-Cortez Amendment Would Block New Pipeline Construction, Hobble US Energy System, Critics Claim

By Mark Tapscott
Mark Tapscott
Mark Tapscott
Congressional Correspondent
Mark Tapscott is an award-winning investigative editor and reporter who covers Congress, national politics, and policy for The Epoch Times. Mark was admitted to the National Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Hall of Fame in 2006 and he was named Journalist of the Year by CPAC in 2008. He was a consulting editor on the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Pulitzer Prize-winning series “Other Than Honorable” in 2014.
July 28, 2020Updated: July 28, 2020

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is quietly pushing an amendment to a congressional budget bill that energy experts warn could cripple Americans’ ability to heat and cool their homes.

The amendment from the first-term Democrat, who is more popularly known as “AOC,” would also be an economic boon to China’s near-monopoly on rare earth minerals required for the solar panels, wind turbine parts, inverters, and batteries that are essential for renewable energy systems.

Such systems would be mandated in the United States under the energy program proposed by former Vice President Joe Biden if he’s elected president in November; Ocasio-Cortez is an energy adviser to Biden.

Her amendment is to H.R. 7617, one of several budget “packages” being brought to the House floor by Democratic leaders in an effort to accelerate the appropriations process by combining funding for multiple departments and agencies.

The full House is scheduled to consider H.R. 7617 later this week. Funding for the departments of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, Labor, and others is covered by the measure.

The Ocasio-Cortez amendment—part of her proposed Green New Deal to force the country to end its use of all fossil fuels—stipulates that “none of the funds made available by this Act may be used by the [U.S. Army] Corps of Engineers to issue a permit under section 404 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1344) for the discharge of dredged or fill material resulting from an activity to construct a pipeline for the transportation of oil or gas.”

If the amendment becomes law, it would stop construction of major new oil and gas pipelines such as the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAP) transporting oil from North Dakota’s Bakken fields, as well as routine maintenance and repairs on an estimated 8,000 other pipelines that, at some point, cross waterways.

Earlier this year, a federal court ordered a segment of the DAP to stop transporting and be drained, pending completion of a new environmental impact statement. The pipeline carries 570,000 barrels of crude each day to refineries in the Midwest and Gulf Coast.

The amendment would effectively shut pipelines that, according to the Department of Transportation “safely deliver trillions of cubic feet of natural gas and hundreds of billions of ton/miles of liquid petroleum products each year.

“They are essential: The volumes of energy products they move are well beyond the capacity of other forms of transportation. It would take a constant line of tanker trucks, about 750 per day, loading up and moving out every two minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to move the volume of even a modest pipeline.

“The railroad-equivalent of this single pipeline would be a train of 225 28,000-gallon tank cars. Pipeline systems are the safest means to move these products.”

Energy industry experts warn of extremely dire consequences for U.S. industries and consumers if the Ocasio-Cortez amendment becomes law.

“This amendment is nothing less than unilateral energy disarmament that benefits the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Red China. At the same time [Ocasio-Cortez] is advising Joe Biden on energy and introducing amendments to stop American energy infrastructure, the Red China government is announcing a $56 billion deal to own and expand their own energy circulation system,” American Energy Alliance Senior Vice President Dan Kish said on July 28.

“China knows it needs a good energy delivery system to make the solar panels, wind turbine parts and inverters and batteries Ocasio-Cortez’ Green New Deal will subsidize and force Americans to buy,” Kish told The Epoch Times.

“Since China controls 90+ percent of the rare earth minerals and the cobalt and lithium and other minerals ‘green energy’ sources require, this amendment really sets China up for a huge economic stimulus,” he said.

A spokesman for the New York congresswoman didn’t immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ emailed requests for comment; Ocasio-Cortez has issued no statements or tweets about the legislation despite its potential effects on the nation’s economy.

The House Rules Committee adopted a closed rule on H.R. 7617 on July 28 that included the Ocasio-Cortez amendment and nearly 300 other proposals for the full House to consider.

The committee’s eight Democrats unanimously rejected a motion by Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) to change the rule to an open one that would allow more amendments to be offered from the House floor. Cole, the ranking minority member, as well as the three other Republicans on the panel voted in favor of Cole’s motion.

 Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott @epochtimes.nyc