Debate over a measure to approve the Keystone XL pipeline devolved into conspiracy theories on Wednesday as one legislator alleged that it served the interests of Charles and David Koch, who have no stake in the project.
"This bill puts Koch brothers’ profits above people's health," claimed Rep. Hank Johnson (D., Ga.) during a floor debate on his amendment to the legislation that would require a study of air quality impacts before the pipeline is approved.
Koch Industries, the company owned by Charles and David Koch, has repeatedly stated that it has no financial stake in the pipeline.
"We are not a proposed shipper or customer of oil delivered by this pipeline," the company said in a news release.
In reference to a previous bill pertaining to the pipeline, the statement noted that Koch Industries had "taken no position on the legislative proposal at issue before Congress and we are not cited in any way in that legislation."
TransCanada, the company building the pipeline, has previously dismissed environmentalist conspiracy theories involving Koch Industries.
"I can tell you that Koch isn't a shipper and I've never met the Koch brothers before," said TransCanada CEO Russ Girling on a 2011 conference call with investors.
Attempts to tie the Kochs to the project, Girling said, were part of an effort "mainly targeted at discrediting the process itself, … discrediting the regulators, discrediting our employees, discrediting the company."
The goal of the campaign, Girling said, was "to obviously stop the oil pipeline project, I believe with an intent that that would lead to a reduction in the development of the Canadian oil sands and that's the target."
The Keystone pipeline, if constructed, would carry crude oil from Canada into the United States. Pipeline supporters allege that the administration has slow-walked the approval process for the project.
Johnson has previously expressed concern that the island of Guam could capsize.
His office did not return a request for comment on his Keystone remarks by press time.
Republicans suggested that Johnson’s comments betrayed weakness in the position of the legislation’s opponents.
"It’s hard to explain to working families why you oppose the creation of thousands of jobs and access to affordable energy from our ally Canada, so it appears House Democrats are going to resort to false statements, theories and attacks instead," a House Republican leadership aide told the Washington Free Beacon.