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Joe M.
Democrat WV

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  • Keystone XL Pipeline Act—Motion to Proceed

    by Senator Joe Manchin, III

    Posted on 2015-01-13

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    Read More about Keystone XL Pipeline Act--Motion to Proceed

    MANCHIN. First, I thank the Senator from North Dakota, my friend, for taking the lead and working with me so closely. I am very excited about the process, the open amendment process.

    We are learning a lot in debates, a lot of good ideas are coming out of this. When all is said and done, we will have a better piece of legislation. That is what this is all about.

    Let me make sure everyone understands this is not all about pipelines. If this is about an XL pipeline or any other pipeline, we wouldn't have a hundred thousand miles of pipeline in America already. Since the Industrial Revolution we would not have built all the pipelines needed to carry the energy that we need to run this country. This is not about pipeline.

    This is about the concerns we all have with greenhouse gas emissions and the development of the oil sands in Canada--nothing to do with the pipeline.

    With that being said. We have to be very clear that Canada is going to develop the oil sands whether or not the Keystone pipeline is built. That is a fact, and we have talked about this.

    The State Department--our own State Department in this great country of ours, the United States of America--has conducted five environmental assessments of the Keystone Pipeline and have found in all of them that the project will not have a significant impact on the environment. Now these are the things we have to be cognizant of.

    The State Department also found the pipeline is unlikely to significantly affect the rate of extraction in Canadian oil development. That means whatever we do here is not going to change the rate of development in the oil sands.

    The State Department also examined alternatives to the proposed XL Pipeline. These alternatives included what would happen if no action were taken at all. Let's say we do nothing here; that nothing comes about with this pipeline. Likely, the crude would be shipped westward by rail or by tanker. That is happening today. So they are going to ship it anyway. And if that continued, it would be considered no action. If we take no action here and don't build this pipeline for whatever reason, the greenhouse gas emissions--which we are all concerned about, and our debates are about that, really--will be between 28 to 42 percent higher if we do nothing.

    So those people who are concerned about greenhouse gas emissions should say: Well, OK, why do we want to contribute to more? The pipeline decreases that. If we don't do it, we have 28 to 42 percent more emissions by how we will move this oil. So the pipeline addresses our energy security limits, and I have talked about that before, and our dependence on foreign oil.

    I have said this many times. We all are entitled to our opinions, and I think we are all going to hear all those opinions in the next couple of weeks. But what we are not entitled to is our own set of facts, because the facts are what they are. I have said this before, and I will repeat it again, and I will continue to repeat: We buy, as of the 2013 figures from the Department of Energy's EIA, we--the United States of America--buy 7 million barrels of crude oil a day. Whether we like it or not, we are buying it. Now, I am sure people say: I wish we didn't. Well, that is what it takes for our economy to run. We are buying that oil--7 million barrels a day.

    Then we need to look at where the oil is coming from. If you are upset with Canada producing oil, we already buy 2\1/2\ million a day from Canada right now. We are already dependent upon Canada for 2\1/2\ million barrels a day.

    We also buy oil from other countries, and I think we should all question why we are buying oil from these other countries, especially when we look at Venezuela. We buy 755,000 barrels a day from Venezuela. They are an authoritarian regime that impoverishes their citizens. We know that. They violate their human rights and have shown their willingness to put down political protest with horrific violence. Yet we are supporting that by purchasing a product from them which they then use the resources from to continue this type of regime.

    The same here: In 2013, we bought 1.3 million barrels from Saudi Arabia. Now I don't know about my colleagues, but I question whether the resources from that or the proceeds from that oil that we paid Saudi Arabia for were used for the betterment of the United States of America, for our best interests. I have my doubts about that.

    We also buy over 40,000 barrels a day from Russia. I don't need to say anything about what is going on there. I think we all know that.

    The Keystone Pipeline would allow us to safely import more oil from a stable ally and one of our best trading partners. In fact, it is the No. 1 trading partner of 35 of our 50 States in the United States of America. Our No. 1 trading partner is Canada. It is also the most stable regime we have, the best ally we have ever had.

    The pipeline will have a final capacity of a little more than 800,000 barrels a day. So right there we could stop buying any oil from Venezuela or cut down dramatically the amount of oil we buy from Saudi Arabia and become less dependent. We can continue to produce energy in North America while stabilizing global supply as well as benefiting Americans and our allies.

    [[Page S168]] In fact, last year, one of President Obama's former national security advisors--one of President's former national security advisors, Retired Marine Gen. James Jones--told the Foreign Relations Committee: The international bullies who wish to use energy scarcity as a weapon against us all are watching intently. If we want to make Mr. Putin's day and strengthen his hand, we should reject the Keystone.

    Let me repeat that: If we want to make Mr. Putin's day and strengthen his hand, we should reject the Keystone. If we want to gain an important measure of national energy security, jobs, tax revenue and prosperity to advance our work on the spectrum of energy solutions that don't rely on carbon, it should be approved.

    So you have to decide which side you are on. Do you want to make Mr. Putin's day or do you want to find alternatives and use all of the above and be less dependent on foreign oil? In addition to our national security interests and energy independence, this bill will also create thousands of jobs. I think we have talked about that. I hear the argument: Well, yes, but they are not going to be permanent. You know, we have built a lot of bridges in America, a lot of infrastructure, and a lot of roads. I don't know of any permanent jobs we have after we build a bridge, but we have a lot of good construction jobs when we are building the bridge. I don't know of any permanent jobs after we build a road, but we have a lot of good construction and high-paying jobs. And when you start looking at that, the building and construction trades, the teamsters, the AFL-CIO, all of our friends of working Americans, the middle class--the hard-working Americans--support this piece of legislation. They want these jobs.

    Our own State Department says it will create about 42,000 jobs to construct the pipeline and thousands of other related jobs. So why don't we seize the opportunity? We talk about amendments. This is an open amendment process. A lot of my colleagues, a lot of my Democratic colleagues on my side of the aisle, have some great ideas and I am going to work with them. I agree with my Democratic friends that companies shipping oil through this pipeline should pay the excise tax to the oilspill trust fund. There is no reason they should be exempted from these payments. I am going to work with them to put that amendment in. It is a good amendment and it will strengthen the bill. That is what the amendment process is about.

    I agree also with my colleagues on the Democratic side that any steel needed in the future on this product should be bought from American steel companies. That is great. That is promoting more jobs in America: Buy American steel. Don't let them dump on us. We should be supporting American jobs.

    I also agree with our friends we shouldn't export any of our oil abroad. If that oil comes to America, it should be subjected to the same laws as all the oil that is extracted in America. So if we extract in the Balkans, if we extract in Texas, we treat them all the same. Those are all good amendments.

    I would like to think this process will strengthen a piece of legislation and hopefully give us 68, 70 votes. That would really give us a good piece of legislation for the American people.

    We have been promised an open amendment process, and I am so thankful for that. This presents an incredibly valuable opportunity to accomplish some of our Democratic priorities--some of our Democratic priorities that we talk about all the time on my side of the aisle. I believe the process will improve the bill, and I hope to convince my colleagues to support this important piece of legislation.

    Let us get the needed votes we need to make sure we move our country forward, become less dependent on foreign oil and more self-sufficient and more secure as a nation.

    I thank the Chair.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Washington.

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