House Opens Debate on Bipartisan H.R. 3 to Allow Construction of Job-Creating Keystone XL Pipeline – Similar Legislation Was Needed 40 years Ago to Achieve Construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline
WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) delivered the following remarks today on the House floor urging his colleagues to join him in supporting legislation to build the Keystone XL pipeline. The House kicked off debate this afternoon on H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act, legislation authored by Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) that will end regulatory delays and allow this landmark jobs and energy project to move forward.
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of the Keystone XL pipeline and in strong support of the Northern Route Approval Act that will finally make this project a reality for the American people.
There may be a few of my colleagues who are tired of Keystone bills, but the American people are also tired – tired of $3.70 a gallon gasoline, tired of unemployment above 7 percent, and tired of four years of delays that continue to block this critical jobs and energy project. Remember, the President pledged to the nation in January 2012 that he would do “whatever it takes” to create U.S. jobs.
Every stated reason for previous delays has now been addressed, most recently the re-route of a portion of the pipeline through Nebraska. In fact, you can count Nebraska’s Governor Jim Heinemann among the many Americans who want to see Keystone XL built. And while some may try to make this a partisan issue here in Congress, it is not partisan issue across the country, with a majority of Americans – Democrats, Republican, and Independents – supporting the pipeline.
I give credit to President Obama for saying some of the right things as of late. Last Friday during a visit to Baltimore, Maryland, manufacturer Ellicott Dredges, the President declared, “one of the problems we’ve had in the past is that sometimes it takes too long to get projects off the ground.” He added that, “there are these permits, and red tape, and planning, and this and that, and some of it’s important to do, but we could do it faster.” In fact, the day before the President’s visit, the CEO of Ellicott Dredges was on Capitol Hill testifying in support of the Keystone pipeline and how it would help his business. The president has it exactly right, and Exhibit A is the Keystone pipeline.
Some are trying to claim that this bill is an unprecedented attempt to rush the process. In truth, the only thing that is unprecedented is the lengthy delays we have already encountered for a project that has been the subject of over 15,000 pages of federal environmental review and found to be safe.
Congress faced much the same dilemma 40 years ago, when federal red tape was holding up the Alaska pipeline project. At the time, Congress realized that the bureaucratic process had gotten out of hand, and that a pipeline that was clearly in the national interest was being subjected to never-ending delays. But thanks to the bipartisan 1973 Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act, the red tape was cut and ground was broken on the project. The Alaska pipeline soon became an incredible success story – a game changer for American energy policy, providing thousands of jobs and billions of barrels of oil while safeguarding Alaska’s environment. H.R. 3 takes much the same approach for Keystone XL.
Unfortunately, while the delays over Keystone XL grow longer, the excuses grow more outlandish. Some argue that Keystone won’t create very many jobs and that most of them would be temporary. Tell that to the labor unions and American workers who are begging for this pipeline to be built. Even the administration’s own State Department found Keystone would support over 40,000 jobs during the pipeline’s construction. That’s a lot of jobs to me. And the paychecks created by Keystone XL would be paid for by the private sector – not taxpayer dollars.
Some also claim that Keystone XL won’t impact gasoline prices. But the law of supply and demand still stands, and Keystone would deliver up to a million barrels per day of reliable Canadian oil to American refineries. And remember, we already receive 1.4 million barrels each day from Canada.
So, if not a pipeline, the oil will come by truck or rail – a riskier form of transport and not nearly as cost efficient. Keystone XL would be the most technically advanced and safest pipeline ever constructed – costing approximately $4 million per mile – and adhering to new pipeline safety standards that we worked together on a bipartisan basis to get signed into law last year and 57 additional safety standards specific to the project. Mr. Speaker, for all of these reasons, it is time to build the Keystone pipeline.