OPINION: By Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Lee Terry in The Hill: It’s Time to Build

May 24, 2013

It’s Time to Build
By Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Lee Terry (R-NE)

Last Friday, the president visited a manufacturing plant in Baltimore, Md., where he focused on the importance of economic recovery. He told the audience, “I’m going to keep trying to work with both parties in Washington to make progress – because our challenges are solvable.” But now that he’s back in Washington and his campaign-style rally is over, it’s time for him to fulfill that promise. It’s time for him to join House Republicans in focusing on real solutions.

One of those solutions is an “all of the above” strategy to secure our nation’s energy independence from OPEC nations, create jobs and provide families much-needed relief at the pump. As part of the all-of-the-above strategy, House Republicans passed a bill to approve the Keystone pipeline that will create up to 20,000 jobs directly related to the construction of the pipeline and another 118,000 downstream. The Keystone XL pipeline is primed to give our economy a shot in the arm and make energy more affordable – and it won’t cost taxpayers a dime. For a president that talks a lot about economic recovery and job creation, signing the Keystone project into law would be an excellent place to start.

Using every bureaucratic trick and excuse in the book, the Obama administration continues to stand in the way of progress and block the Keystone XL pipeline. While visiting the manufacturing facility on Friday, the president blamed Congress for impeding infrastructure projects. What the president failed to mention is that it has now been more than 1,700 days since the initial permits were filed for building the pipeline and there have been over 15,000 pages of environmental reviews on the Keystone pipeline. To put those delays into perspective, it took the United States a little over 1,300 days to win World War II, and it took Lewis and Clark approximately 1,100 days to walk the Louisiana Purchase.

The bill we just passed, the Northern Route Approval Act (H.R. 3), is the most comprehensive piece of legislation that Congress has considered on the Keystone pipeline. It takes into account the final environmental impact statement issued by the secretary of State in 2011, abides by all requirements in the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act and advances our bipartisan goals of environmental stewardship.

One of the most important points of this legislation has nothing to do with what’s in the bill. This legislation is about strengthening our bilateral relationship with our nation’s largest trading partner.

The Keystone XL pipeline will be the most highly engineered and safest pipeline built to date.

It’s ironic that the president spoke in Baltimore last week as the House began its debate on the Keystone pipeline – because we wouldn’t be here without his delays. It’s time for the president to stop talking about economic recovery and actually start supporting it. House Republicans are committed to getting Americans back to work – and passing the Keystone XL pipeline project will make that happen. Now is the time to build the Keystone pipeline. No more delays, no more politics.

This is just one part of our all-of-the-above energy solution. There is much more we can do to support our nation of builders and unlock our domestic resources as a way to create jobs, lower the cost of living, and put our nation on a path to energy security.

It’s time to build.

McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) is chairwoman of the House Republican Conference and a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Terry represents Nebraska's 2nd District and was the author of H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act.

Read the column online here.

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