A picture of Senator Mary L. Landrieu
Mary L.
Former Democrat LA
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    Executive Session

    by Former Senator Mary L. Landrieu

    Posted on 2013-02-14

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    LANDRIEU. Madam President, I am very proud to join in this colloquy with over eight Members of the Senate this afternoon. We are here to talk about this important issue and share ideas with our colleagues and with those who are listening to this debate. This pipeline is important so we can get a reliable, steady stream of oil and gas as we move to cleaner fuels in the future for our country.

    I say to my good friend, the Senator from North Dakota, how important it is for drilling, particularly for natural gas, using the breathtakingly new technology that is allowing us to find both wet and dry gas, which is very valuable to our country. This is happening in many places in the country. It will help to fuel a renaissance in manufacturing.

    This is not just going to help traditional oil- and gas-producing States such as Louisiana and Texas, this breakthrough in technology enables us to retrieve gas not only in an economically efficient way but in an environmentally sensitive way. It is going to be very important and impactful to many States in the Union.

    We are already seeing companies coming back to the United States. They are relocating from Chile, places in Europe, places in Asia, and coming back to the United States primarily because of this resurgence of gas.

    But here we are talking about a pipeline that is primarily for oil that comes out of sand. This is not the traditional deep wells where there are large deposits of oil that are drilled. This is a technology that is allowing the separation of these sands to get the carbon or oil out of them.

    Now, yes, we want to move as quickly as we can away from carbon--or to lessen carbon because of its damaging impacts--but there is a transition period we have to go through. There is no waving of a magic wand; there is no snapping of a finger; there is no jumping from this generation of energy production to the next overnight.

    Even President Clinton--even Al Gore when he was Vice President-- talked about the transition we have to go through. I see this pipeline as a transition. It is giving us oil from one of our closest, most dependable, and friendliest of all allies, Canada, as opposed to pushing over the next 5 or 10 years to continuing to do business with countries that do not share our values, such as the leadership in Venezuela today or the problems with countries in the Middle East. Even the Saudis, whom we respect in some ways, do not have the same value system as the United States. We would much rather--at least my constituents would much rather--deal with Canada and Mexico. Not only are they better allies, but for Louisiana, we like working in Canada. It is a little closer to home. We like working in Mexico.

    Many of the workers on these rigs and in this business come from Louisiana and Texas. Let me be crystal clear: My colleagues who are helping on this issue are absolutely right, the people of Louisiana wish to work in Canada where there are environmental protections, where the wages are good, where there are not a lot of pirates floating around, and where workers are much less likely to be kidnapped. I mean, these are serious issues for the oil and gas industry. That is one of the reasons I have been urging President Obama, along with many of my colleagues, to rethink his position on this pipeline.

    I guess this has been said by my colleagues--I see the Senator from West Virginia is here, and I am sure he has said this on the floor before--Canada is going to produce this oil one way or another. The question is: Who are they going to send it to? Are they going to send it to their good friend the United States and our refineries in Texas and Louisiana or are they going to ship it somewhere else in the world? I would like--and the Senator from North Dakota knows this--to form a stronger partnership with Canada and Mexico so we can have security in North America. This will help the Canadian economy and it will help the Mexican economy, which immediately and directly affects our whole Nation. These are our border countries. We are doing a lot of work. I don't know if the Senator knows this, but down in Mexico, in the Gulf of Mexico--I literally--and this is a little bit afield--was recently in Israel and had the great opportunity to go offshore to visit a field, the Leviathan field, which is one of the largest fields in the world. It was discovered in a remarkably new place, which gives Israel a great opportunity to think about being energy independent or energy self-sufficient, which is quite exciting.

    When I went offshore in Israel, I met my own workers from Morgan City, Thibodeaux, and Lafourche. They said: Why are you here? I said: The same reason you are. The Louisiana workers go everywhere. We are proud to do it. We would love to be close to home in Canada, Mexico, and our refineries, which are expanding for the first time in many years. Our manufacturing base is expanding.

    Finally, I would say in this colloquy, I ask the Senator from North Dakota: Has he had a conversation with the oil minister from Canada--I think it is Minister Oliver--and talked to him at all recently? I had a conversation with him yesterday, and I wanted to maybe share that with the Senator from North Dakota.

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