WASHINGTON–DC–Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairmen Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) and Frank Pallone have joined with Reps. John Sweeney (R-NY) and Joseph Crowley (D-NY) in expressing growing Congressional opposition to the use of American tax dollars to fund Caspian energy projects that exclude Armenia–reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
The four legislators have introduced legislation–H.Con.Res.162–on this subject and are in the process of sharing their concerns on this issue with the President in the form of a Congressional letter. This initiative comes in the wake of the recently released recommendations of the Bush Administration’s National Energy Policy Development (NEPD) group–which announced its support for the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. The NEPD group failed–however–to identify Armenia as the most cost-effective route for the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline; the most viable option and the one that best serves US commercial and strategic interests in the region.
The legislation would specifically state that it is the "Sense of Congress" that:
(1) the United States should not subsidize any oil or gas pipeline in the South Caucasus whose commercial viability is in doubt or which hinders the United States goal of integrating Armenia into a secure and prosperous regional economic framework;
(2) all proposals for South Caucasus oil and gas pipeline routes should be carefully evaluated to ensure that all nations of the Caucasus are included in consideration of energy and trade routes;
(3) any engineering and feasibility study–and any project implementation–that utilizes United States Government funds–regarding the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline–or similar energy transportation projects–must include trans-Armenian routes; and
(4) the Trade Development Agency should fund and support an oil and gas pipeline feasibility study to determine the cost savings of a trans-Armenia Baku-Ceyhan pipeline.
"We commend the foresight of Congressmen Knollenberg–Pallone–Sweeney–and Crowley and applaud their initiative in educating Congress about the vital role Armenia can play in the region’s oil and gas development–and–in particular–in the future of the Baku-Ceyhan project," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "Armenia is a key player in the region and an indispensable partner to any future successful undertaking in this regard. We urge Congress to direct the Administration to seek rational and lasting solutions in this strategic field and not to be guided by short-sighted political pressures."
In a June 14th statement on the House floor–Congressman Crowley "urged the President to give additional thought to the proposed Baku-Ceyhan pipeline and to have the foresight to include Armenia in that project–both for the good of the region–and for the good of US policy in the region." In this same speech–he announced that the four lead sponsors of this legislation–in addition to introducing H.Con.Res.162–would also join together in writing to President George W. Bush to ask that he "review all current and future oil and gas pipeline routes to ensure that all countries of the South Caucasus are included."