1978 Scorecard Vote
H.R. 1609. The vote is on passage of the bill to promote the development of coal slurry pipelines. These pipelines pump a mixture of pulverized coal and water from the mines to large users like utilities. Pipeline development was stalled because the railroads refused to give them access across railroad land. The bill gave the Interior Department authority under certain conditions to grant the pipeline developers federal powers of eminent domain -- the power to take private land in the public interest. Railroads, farmers and environmentalists have teamed up against the coal slurry pipelines for several reasons: (1) they are a wasteful use of scarce western water and threaten the Madison aquifer underlying three states; (2) the railroads could haul the coal more cheaply and use up only one sixth of the energy while doing it; (3) the bill did not protect prime farmland; and (4) the bill had no safeguards against spills, and the waste-water from the pipelines posed unknown environmental problems. The bill required various federal agencies to study the effects of the coal slurry pipelines on the railroads and the water tables, required state permits, and gave the Department of Transportation and the ICC power to set pipeline rates. But these restrictions did not guarantee solutions to the problems described above. Rejected 161-246. July 19, 1978. NO is the correct vote.