Subcommittee Discusses Path Forward for Job-Creating Keystone Pipeline
WASHINGTON, DC - The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), continued its American Energy Initiative series today with a hearing to discuss "Expediting the Keystone XL Pipeline: Energy Security and Jobs."
Today's hearing follows President Obama's recent action to delay the pipeline's construction until 2013. Instead of approving this shovel-ready jobs project, the president punted his decision on the Presidential Permit past election day, putting the pipeline in jeopardy along with the thousands of jobs it would create.
"The President has been using the slogan "˜we can't wait' as he travels around the country. But "˜wait' is exactly what he told the workers who want to build and support this pipeline. "˜Wait' is what he told families and industries looking for secure, reliable energy supplies," said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). "Today's hearing allows us to discuss where we go from here, and to take a closer look at this pipeline's promise for job creation."
Disappointed by the president's decision to postpone the pipeline, organized labor witnesses touted the job-creating value of the pipeline and urged action to get the project moving so their members could get back to work.
"For many members of the Laborers, this project is not just a pipeline; it is a life-line," said Brent Bookers, Director of the Construction Department at the Laborers' International Union of North America. "Joblessness in construction is far higher than any industry sector, with over 1.1 million construction workers currently unemployed in the United States. Too many hard-working Americans are out of work, and the Keystone XL pipeline will change that dire situation for thousands of them."
Bruce Burton, representing the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, explained how the pipeline would employ thousands of workers across the country, "From pipe manufactured in Arkansas, pump motors assembled in Ohio and transformers built in Pennsylvania, to the men and women who will actually work on the pipeline itself, workers from all over the United Stated would benefit from the project. The Keystone XL Pipeline project is shovel-ready. As soon as a Presidential Permit is granted, jobs would be created -jobs that our country -jobs that our members desperately need."
Alex Pourbaix, President of Energy and Oil Pipelines for TransCanada, discussed the pipeline's positive benefits for America's energy security and economy, but explained these benefits would be lost if the U.S. did not act quickly, "This project is needed -the benefits are clear -but time is of the essence to receive the approvals we need so Americans can begin to experience the begin to experience the benefits of Keystone. We are ready to begin. We can create jobs immediately. We would like to get started."
To help get the pipeline's construction back on track, Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) today introduced H.R. 3548, the North American Energy Access Act. The bill places authority for the pipeline with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the agency most experienced with the environmental review needed for approval of the Nebraska reroute. The legislation gives FERC a 30-day deadline to approve the pipeline application and ensures coordination with the state of Nebraska during the reroute process.
"We in Congress, like the President, must make policy decisions based upon our best information and best judgment. Most important decisions that we make involve economic and policy risks. But in this case, it seems that the biggest risk is for us to stand by and do nothing," said Whitfield. "We must find a way forward and we must find it fast."