Grassley says he still supports oil pipeline

The deadly wreck of an oil train in Canada last week should provide further incentive to build the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley said Thursday.

”We need a pipeline,” the Republican lawmaker said during a 10-minute telephone interview.

The pipeline, he said, would provide a safer and more efficient way to move oil.

The Keystone XL pipeline would transport crude oil from Canada to refineries in Texas. President Barack Obama has delayed a decision on approving it.

Grassley said that if the president doesn’t act soon, the Congress will pass legislation authorizing the pipeline and send it to Obama.

Failure to build the pipeline will not stop the extraction of oil from tar sands in Canada, according to Grassley.

”Either they’re going to sell it to the United States or they’re going to end up selling it to China,” he said.

He added that refining that crude oil in the United States rather than in China will be safer for the environment.

Turmoil in Egypt, the senator said, caused recent gasoline price hikes. He added that there’s little the United States can do about that.

”I think that you’re going to take a great deal of fluctuation out of oil prices because of the large supply in the United States,” he said.

In an unrelated matter, Grassley said that two years ago he voted to split the farm bill into two parts, one for agriculture programs and one for food stamps, for what he called ”idealistic” reasons.

”Quite frankly, I get tired of farmers getting blamed for the 80 percent of the farm bill that is food stamps,” he said.

But he said he doesn’t think such a division would be a good idea this year.

”I’m in favor of leaving them together in order to get a bill to the president,” he said.

But at about the same time Grassley was speaking, the House of Representatives passed a farm bill without a food stamp component by a margin of 216-208.