Approval of Keystone XL At the Top of Congress’ To Do List

May 9, 2012

Earlier this year, President Obama began traveling around the country to road-test the slogan “we can’t wait.” He used the phrase to justify a whole host of policies on which he wanted to bypass Congress, claiming the need to move quickly because, "we can't wait." But his message fell flat after he stalled and eventually rejected the Keystone XL pipeline. It turns out President Obama is the one making the American people wait. The president has now unveiled a new message giving to Congress a 'to do list'. At a speech yesterday in Albany, NY, he assigned Congress a series of tasks featuring job creation as a top priority. But once again, the president's slogan belies his own actions. The president could easily check an important job creation opportunity off the nation's "to do list" by approving the Keystone XL pipeline. After three and a half years of review and two permit applications, the president has yet to say “yes” to this vital energy infrastructure project that will support thousands of new jobs.

The consequences of President Obama’s Keystone delay could be devastating for our economy, energy security, and future relations with Canada, our largest trading partner and close ally. Canadian officials have warned U.S. lawmakers that they are now looking to send their oil overseas. In an interview with POLITICO PRO, Dave Collyer, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said the president’s fumbling of Keystone XL forced Canada to rethink its trade strategy. “I think what the Keystone decision did was increase the awareness of that vulnerability and provide some impetus clearly … on the importance of diversifying that market,” said Collyer. He added that the Keystone debacle may cause Canada to rethink future energy projects with the U.S., stating, “But in the face of a rather overwhelming set of facts, with this decision to be deferred that frankly raises some questions about the integrity of the process and whether we can have confidence in the regulatory review process.”

House and Senate conferees began negotiations this week to reach a compromise on transportation legislation. The negotiators must decide whether to include a provision in the final bill that secures approval of the pipeline’s long-overdue permit. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), a member of the conference committee, urged his colleagues to support congressional approval Keystone XL. “The time for delay is over. This is a $7 billion privately funded infrastructure project that will create and support tens of thousands of jobs and bring tremendous energy security. It has been thoroughly reviewed, and its route in Nebraska is being resolved with input and agreement from the state,” said Upton. “Expedited approval of the Keystone XL pipeline has already secured broad, bipartisan support in the House. It has bipartisan backing in the Senate as well, and I am eager to see it included in our final agreement.”

Once constructed, Keystone XL will carry nearly a million barrels of additional North American energy supplies to U.S. refineries every day. Access to this reliable and affordable energy supply is essential to support our economy, particularly as we work to improve economic growth and job creation. Unfortunately, the president’s delay has put Keystone, as well as future U.S.-Canadian energy projects, at risk. He has kept us waiting for Keystone’s jobs and oil for too long, which is why House Republicans have made it a priority to see that the pipeline is built, putting Keystone XL at the top of their to do list.