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John H.
Republican ND

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  • Keystone XL Pipeline Act—Motion to Proceed

    by Senator John Hoeven

    Posted on 2015-01-09

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    HOEVEN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

    Mr. HOEVEN. Mr. President, I am here this morning to once again talk about the Keystone XL Pipeline, the legislation we will be voting on next week. We will be voting on cloture on the motion to proceed to the legislation. Then, hopefully, we will be debating that bill and offering amendments, which is exactly what we are supposed to be doing in this Chamber.

    On Thursday, yesterday, we had a hearing on the bill. In that hearing we brought the bill forward. It is a bill I have authored. Joe Manchin is the lead Democratic cosponsor. We have 60 cosponsors on the bill. So we have strong bipartisan support. It is the Keystone approval bill. Essentially, what it does is under the commerce clause of the Constitution of the United States, which authorizes Congress to oversee trade with foreign countries, we approve the Keystone XL Pipeline crossing the border from Canada into the United States.

    A lot of people do not realize the pipeline carries domestic oil from places such as North Dakota and Montana--the Bakken region of our country--to refineries, and it carries both [[Page S122]] Canadian and domestic crude. But part of the approval requires approval for crossing the border from Canada into the United States. Typically, that is done by a national interest determination by the President of the United States. But the President has been unwilling to do that now for more than 6 years.

    The company that is trying to build this pipeline, TransCanada, applied for approval to build this project pursuant to other pipelines it had already built. The original Keystone had already been built. This is the Keystone XL sister pipeline. But in September 2008 they applied for approval to build the Keystone XL Pipeline and to get a cross-border permit determination by the President that, in fact, this vital energy infrastructure is in the national interest.

    Well, more than 6 years have elapsed, obviously, since September 2008. The President has still not rendered a final decision, arguing that somehow the process has not been completed after more than 6 years. Of course, America was able to fight and win World War II in less than 6 years. But our President feels that somehow that process still has not been completed after more than 6 years on this project.

    So, of course, the purpose of the bill is, in essence, to say: All right, Mr. President, if you will not approve this project, Congress will--under the commerce clause of the Constitution--which we have the authority to do. Earlier we passed legislation. As a matter of fact, I had written a bill in 2011, which we passed in 2012. We attached it to the payroll tax holiday, a bill that got 73 votes, as I recall, which required the President to make a decision. At that time the decision he made was no, on the basis of the route in Nebraska.

    So what happened then in 2012 is that the good citizens of Nebraska went to work on a new route in Nebraska. The legislature, the Governor dealt with that new route, came up with a new route, and approved it overwhelmingly.

    It was then subsequently challenged by opponents of the project. Some of the extreme environmentalists have continued to oppose the project, and so that decision went to the supreme court.

    We learned today the supreme court has now decided in favor of TransCanada. The news came out this morning that yet another obstacle, after more than 6 years of obstacles, today has been taken care of. The problem is solved.

    The Nebraska State Legislature ruled in favor of the Governor-- Governor Dave Heineman, whom I know very well, the former Governor of Nebraska--and the legislature, and it said the way they sited this pipeline is, in fact, proper and upheld their decision. I will talk about that decision in a few minutes.

    But the other thing I wish to talk about in terms of the Keystone Pipeline is the discussion we had yesterday in the energy committee because it was an opportunity to begin the debate we are going to have on the floor next week. The proponents had an opportunity to state their positions and why, and the opponents had their opportunity to state their positions and why. So for several hours we began that debate. We then voted on the legislation and moved it out, without amendment, on a 13-to-9 vote. It was a bipartisan vote, 13 to 9, and we will have that bill for a vote on the floor Monday.

    I wish to address some of the arguments the opponents put forward in opposition to this project. I will start with the Nebraska court decision because that was one of the issues brought up at our energy hearing yesterday. Some of the opponents of the project said: Well, you know what. The process hasn't been concluded--even though it has been going on for more than 6 years. I will put a diagram up here that shows the route of the pipeline.

    As I mentioned, the original Keystone pipeline has already been built. That is the red. That has already been built. It was permitted. It took 2 years to permit and 2 years to build. I was actually Governor of North Dakota at that time. We can see it goes right through our State.

    It seems to me that application was submitted by TransCanada in 2006. It was during the Bush administration, obviously. It was approved within 2 years, and the project was constructed within 2 years.

    So from start to conclusion, 4 years to build this pipeline, which I think carries about 640,000 barrels of oil a day. It brings it down to Cushing so that oil can go into our oil refineries in the gulf. It also goes over here to Patoka, IL, so it can go to our refineries in the East.

    Based on that project, there are 640,000 barrels a day. TransCanada wanted to build a second pipeline. This one is 830,000 barrels a day. I think it is about a $7.9 billion project in all.

    Not only does this project carry crude from Canada, our closest friend and ally, but it also brings oil out of this Bakken region in North Dakota and Montana. We put oil on it as well. So both Canadian and domestic crude are going to our refineries.

    Again, it is just basic infrastructure that we need to move energy from where we produce it to where we refine it and consume it. We can't build an energy plan for this country without the necessary infrastructure. We have to have pipelines, roads, rail, and electric transmission lines to move electricity.

    We cannot build what we want, which is either--some people refer to it as energy independence. I call it energy security. But, net, we produce more energy than we consume.

    When we produce more energy than we consume, we get jobs, we get economic growth, we get national security because we don't have to depend on places such as the Middle East or Venezuela or Russia--as does so much of Europe. Western Europe and Eastern Europe is dependent on Russia for their oil and gas. What a terrible situation for them. The people of this country don't want to depend on OPEC for their oil.

    So we produce it here. We are doing that. You know what else. We are working with our closest friend and ally Canada, and already that is happening. We are already moving toward a situation--we already produce more natural gas, but soon, if we keep it up, we will produce more oil. Working together with Canada, we will get a little bit from Mexico, and we will produce more oil and gas than we consume.

    Some call it energy independence--not really, because it is a global market for energy. But it is certainly energy security. We don't have to depend on anyone else for our energy because we have it right here.

    Not only does that create jobs directly, but energy is a foundational industry for all of the other industry sectors. Think about it. If you are in manufacturing, high-tech--just name it--or if you are in farming, agriculture, you depend on energy. If you have lower costs and abundant, available energy, you are more competitive in the global economy, aren't you? So it is a foundational industry as well, and that is why we have to have this vital infrastructure as part of the energy building plan for our country.

    It is working. Don't take my word for it. Drive to the gas station. Go on over there. Fill up your car. Look at the bill when you are done. It is a lot lower than it was a few years ago, right? Check it out.

    Every consumer is benefiting at the pump. Small businesses are benefiting across the board. All the industry sectors benefit from lower oil and gas prices.

    Why did that happen? OPEC decided to give us a Christmas present; is that what it is? I don't think so.

    Russia decided: Oh, gee, to our friends in America, we better send them some oil to reduce the price at the pump. I don't think so.

    It is because we are producing so much more oil and gas--not only in the Bakken and in the Eagle Ford formation in Texas, which are shale, clays for oil, but also natural gas in the Marcellus, other areas of our country--in the eastern part--and by working with our closest friend and ally, Canada. We are getting millions of barrels of oil from Canada.

    So the oil we produce at home and the oil we get from Canada we don't have to get from Venezuela, we don't have to get from OPEC, we don't have to get from Russia, and we don't have to get from countries in Africa. When we send those dollars over to other countries, how are they using those dollars? Look at what is going on in Paris today.

    How many of those petro dollars fund terrorist activities? Isn't it better, if [[Page S123]] we are not going to produce that energy at home, that we get it from Canada? And isn't it better that we produce that energy at home? How are we going to produce that energy at home if we don't have the infrastructure to move it from where it is produced to where it is consumed? Gee, then somebody will say: Well, yeah, that is just common sense, of course, right? I mean, that is just basic common sense. Why aren't we doing it? Yet here we are in a process for more than 6 years still waiting to produce it because the extreme environmental interests have decided: Well, we just don't want to produce more oil. We don't want more oil produced in this country, and we don't want more oil produced in Canada.

    Of course, you say: Well, then what? We keep buying it from Russia or we keep buying it from OPEC? Oh, no, no, no, we will just keep developing all these alternatives. I am all for developing all kinds of energy. I would say go ahead. Let's do it.

    We worked hard in our State. We have not only oil and gas--we are now the second largest oil-producing State, second only to Texas, but we also produce natural gas. We have coal fired, we have solar, we have wind, we have biofuels. We have all of them. I am for all of them.

    What I don't understand is how developing our oil and gas resources, building the vital infrastructure--how does that prevent us from developing any other type of energy? How does it prevent that? It doesn't.

    It just makes sure that as we work on anything else, we don't have to continue to be dependent on OPEC or somebody else for our oil and gas. That is all we are doing.

    So let's not sit here and pick winners and losers and do that kind of thing. Let's create the best business climate we can. Let's develop the vital infrastructure we need to move energy around our country, and let's truly become energy secure. That is what this project represents.

    Make no mistake. At the end of the day, that is what this project is about. It has been held up for more than 6 years with hurdle after hurdle. Somebody says: Oh, well, gee, that is TransCanada. That is one company. Who cares about that? Think about it. If you are going to build a pipeline or move energy around this country, if you are going to try to develop oil and gas-- whether it is for Canada or anyone else--and you see a company that wants to build a simple pipeline--something that has been done, I think, 19 times before--and they have to spend billions of dollars and take years and years and years, and they still don't have it, are you still going to rush out and do that? Are you going to rush out and build a lot more infrastructure? Probably not.

    So isn't this really about trying to shut her down? Isn't this the opponent saying: No, we are going to shut down developing the energy resources in this country. We are not going to work with Canada to do it.

    And then what do we end up doing? We say: Well, we will have all these other things.

    Maybe we will, maybe we won't or maybe we will go right back to what has been happening--history tends to repeats itself--and we will go back to remaining dependent on OPEC oil, back to remaining dependent on OPEC. It has to be music to these guys' ears.

    I wish to take a couple of minutes--I know the chairman of our energy committee will be coming to the floor and speaking on this issue as well--and work to rebut some of the other arguments that have been brought up on this issue, and some of these were brought up yesterday at our energy committee.

    The first one, as I say, was: Well, look, the process isn't done because the decision in Nebraska hasn't been made.

    Well, in fact, the decision in Nebraska has been made several times. Now the Nebraska Supreme Court put out a ruling today saying that it is fine. All the work the legislature in Nebraska did, all the work the Governor in Nebraska did--the rerouting in Nebraska is upheld.

    That is done. That excuse is gone. As the House works to pass this bill today, and as we work to pass it next week, that argument is off the table. That has been taken care of.

    The biggest argument is the environmental argument. The opponents say: Oh, well, it will produce greenhouse gas emissions. They are opposed to oil development because it produces greenhouse gas emissions.

    Yet the environmental impact statement--I should say the multiple environmental impact statements done by the State Department--this is what they say. Understand there have been five different reports--three draft reports and two final reports--over a 6-year timeframe. The State Department has done this not once, not twice, but three times in draft form and two times in final form. They have gone in, and they have analyzed the environmental impact of this project.

    When you read the report, do you know what it says? ``No significant environmental impact'' is what it says. That is the Obama administration's State Department environmental impact statement, after 6 years of study--not once, not twice, but five times between three draft statements and two final statements--``No significant environmental impact.'' That is what it says.

    It just stands to reason because if we don't build the pipeline, they pointed out, then what happens? Well, if you don't have this pipeline, the environmental impact statement pointed out that it will take 1,400 railcars a day to move that oil. So instead of moving that oil from Canada, not even counting--I mean, we have to move our oil too. If we don't have the pipeline to move that oil in the safest, most cost- effective and efficient way, then it has to be moved by rail. If you don't have a pipeline, you have to move it by rail. Now you have 1,400 railcars a day creating congestion on the rail.

    That creates more greenhouse gas, that creates more congestion, more difficulty in moving our ag products and other products.

    We are already seeing that. We already have congestion on our rail that is backing up the shipment of other goods. We had a tremendous problem moving our ag goods this year. So are we going to have another 1,400 railcars on a railroad system that is already overloaded? It doesn't make much sense.

    You know what. It creates more greenhouse gas. So by not having the pipeline, you increase the greenhouse gas emissions. I suppose Canada could say--although it is unlikely because they are already moving it by rail.

    In my home State of North Dakota we are already moving 700,000 barrels a day by railcar because we can't get enough pipeline, and we are producing more oil. We are up to 1.2 million barrels a day, moving 700,000 barrels by railcars because we can't move it by pipeline, benefiting the rest of our country--light, sweet Bakken crude.

    The other thing with Canada is they say: If we can't bring the pipeline down and work with our closest friend and ally, the United States, if they would rather work with--I don't know--OPEC than Canada--we can't figure that one out. I am sure Prime Minister Harper is saying: Oh, boy, that is unbelievable. But OK, then I guess what we will have to do is we will build these pipelines--and they are already in the process of doing so--to the west coast of Canada. We will load that oil on tankers, and we will send it all to China because China wants it. They are not only willing to buy the oil, but they are trying to buy the source of the oil.

    So then it gets on the pipeline, and then it goes on tankers over to China. Well, those tankers produce greenhouse gas emissions as they haul that oil to China. In China the refineries have much higher greenhouse gas emissions. They are much less efficient. They are much less environmentally sound than our refineries in this country. So what do we end up with? We end up with much higher greenhouse gas emissions because we didn't have the pipeline.

    Oh, and by the way, instead of us then refining it, tankers have to bring that petroleum to us from OPEC, from Russia, heavy crude from Venezuela, creating some more greenhouse gas. So the net effect is we have increased the environmental impacts by not allowing the pipeline. It increases it. It doesn't reduce it, it increases it.

    Furthermore, Canada's laws, in terms of environmental stewardship, are tougher than ours, but they are continuing to move to what is called in situ development in the oil sands. What [[Page S124]] is in situ development? In situ development is drilling and then the use of steam to bring up the oil rather than excavating, which is the traditional way they produce oil up here. So the greenhouse gas footprint is very similar to drilling in the United States. In fact, it has a lower footprint than the heavy crude that comes out of California--a very environmentally conscious State.

    Again, when we talk about the environmental impact, let's talk about the facts. Let's talk about reality, and those are the facts. That is what it is truly about.

    Safety is another thing they brought up. Something could happen with the pipeline. That is true, and we always have to work on safety. It is very important we always address safety in whatever we do. The best way to have a safe infrastructure system to move energy around this country is to have the right mix of pipelines and roads and rail--the right mix along with transmission lines--so we move all types of energy as safely and as effectively as possible.

    This graph reflects the pipeline system in our country. Oil and gas are moving through millions and millions of miles of pipelines in our country. This pipeline is going to be the newest, with the latest and the best technology. Oh, by the way, if we don't have the pipeline, as I mentioned just a minute ago, we are adding 1,400 railcars a day. Everyone can do their own calculation, but do we think we are safer and more likely to have less accidents with another pipeline--with the latest, greatest technologies and safeguards--or would we rather have 1,400 railcars a day going through our communities loaded with oil? Common sense again, and the statistics support it.

    There is more. They brought up more concerns, but I am nearing the end of my time, in terms of floor time right now, and I know our chairman is coming down, so I will have to wrap this up. I went a little longer on some of these issues they brought up, and they brought up others, but here is the good news. We are going to vote on a cloture motion to proceed to the bill on Monday. I am hopeful, with our 60 sponsors on this legislation--we will have 60, maybe 63 votes based on what people have indicated to me as to how they will vote right now-- that after the vote on Monday we will be on the bill.

    Unlike the past several years in the Senate, once we are on the bill, we will be open for business, and we are welcoming amendments. We are saying to Republicans and Democrats alike: Bring them on. Bring on your amendments. If you have a good idea, come on down. If you have a good idea, come on down and let's talk about your amendment. Let's debate your amendment, and you know what. You are going to get a vote, and if you get 60 votes in support of your amendment, then we will make it part of this legislation.

    We are hopeful that in allowing amendments, we can improve the legislation, we can make it more bipartisan, and we can get more supporters, so if in fact the President does decide to veto it, we will have 67 votes instead of 60 or 63 votes. That is how the process is supposed to work. We are supposed to be able to have that debate, offer those amendments, and produce the best product we can. That is what we are hoping to do with this legislation.

    We are also hoping that will not only generate more bipartisan support on this issue, on this legislation, but on other energy legislation and other legislation of all types so we can get the important work of the American people done in this body. That is what it is all about: finding a way to get things done--get the job done for the American people.

    With that, I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.

    The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

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