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Orrin H.
Republican UT

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  • Keystone XL Pipeline Act—Motion to Proceed

    by Senator Orrin G. Hatch

    Posted on 2015-01-13

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    HATCH. Mr. President, I wish to thank my distinguished colleague for leading this fight. He has been leading it for years now. It is such a no-brainer. It is amazing to me that we have to go through this again. I thank him for yielding to me, and I would like to associate myself with the many persuasive arguments that have been made here by my colleagues--both Democratic and Republican--urging the speedy passage of this legislation.

    To me, the decision to approve this pipeline is an obvious one for a host of reasons: It will support more than 42,000 good-paying jobs. I didn't quite get what the assistant minority leader was saying today on how few jobs it will create. It actually will support more than 42,000 good-paying jobs during its construction phase.

    It will contribute more than $3.4 billion to our gross domestic product.

    It will aid in the goal of North American energy independence.

    As the State Department's environmental impact statement found, building the Keystone XL Pipeline will actually be better for the environment than not building it. The energy resources the Canadians produce will reach the market regardless of whether this pipeline is built, and Keystone XL is by far the safest, cleanest, and most efficient means of doing so. What are the arguments against it other than phony environmental arguments? That was the State Department, controlled by them.

    As a commonsense, bipartisan jobs and infrastructure measure, this bill is exactly the sort of legislation the Senate should be considering as its first order of business in this new Congress, but it should not have to be. The story here is about more than a single pipeline, no matter how many jobs its construction will create, no matter how important it is for our energy independence, and no matter how environmentally sound it is. This is a story about a regulatory process that is clearly broken. This is a story about special interests manipulating the bureaucracy to muck up a process that should be very simple and uncontroversial. This is a story about just one of many examples of tragically missed opportunities to create good-paying jobs and provide relief for household budgets across the country.

    The application for approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline was first filed in September of 2008--more than 6 years ago. U.S. Senators have served more than a full term during that time. Children born after the application was filed are now in first grade.

    The notion that any infrastructure project should be held up for such a long period is disturbing not just to me but I think to anybody who carefully [[Page S163]] looks at this, but the delay of Keystone XL is even worse. Given the strong and well-documented economic and environmental case for the pipeline, Keystone is the sort of project that should have been quickly and easily approved for construction. But for some committed environmentalists inside and outside the Obama administration, common sense and balanced consideration of the facts no longer matter. Instead, to them, this simple pipeline has become a political symbol, regardless of what the science tells us. They have directed their ample energies at throwing up every procedural roadblock imaginable to the approval of the pipeline. As a result, this project has endured delay after delay.

    Over the past few years, the American people have rightly developed the impression that Washington is broken. There can be no better example of the consequence of this dysfunction than the Keystone XL Pipeline sitting in bureaucratic purgatory.

    When a project such as this--which is good for jobs, good for families, and good for families' budgets--gets bogged down in the Obama administration's redtape, it is absolutely the responsibility of Congress to act. Unfortunately, for years the Senate became a place where good ideas such as approving Keystone XL came to die, where control of the calendar and the amendment process prevented the consideration of so many good, bipartisan issues and ideas. Not only was the administrative process broken, but the Senate was also paralyzed and unable to step in and fix it.

    By taking up this important bill as our first matter of consideration in the new Congress, we are taking steps to restore the Senate to the great legislative body it is meant to be, the place where Senators work across the aisle to meet the needs of the American people.

    By coming together to propose a commonsense solution to get back on track this project which has become such a symbol of what is wrong with Washington, my friends from North Dakota and West Virginia are demonstrating exactly the sort of thoughtful, inclusive, and bipartisan leadership the American people have been demanding as they watched this greatest deliberative body in the world become the laughingstock of the world because we haven't gotten very much done. We haven't gotten very much done because of the way it has been run over the last number of years.

    It is my sincere hope that we move quickly and desperately and deliberately to approve this measure and that we soon begin considering serious regulatory reform to prevent the sorts of abuses we have seen bedevil the Keystone XL project. The American people deserve an efficient and effective regulatory process that works for them. It is time for the Senate to deliver.

    Having said these few words, I wish to personally thank my distinguished colleagues from North Dakota and my colleagues from West Virginia for the leadership they have provided on this issue.

    Senator Hoeven is a former Governor. He knows what he is talking about. He is one of the most reasonable, decent, and honorable people in this body. He has shown a great willingness to work with both sides. He has continued to fight for this even though it has been uphill for more than 6 years. He has continued to fight for it because it is right. It is the right thing to do, and it is in our best interest to do it and to do it now.

    Thank you, Mr. President.

    I yield the floor.

    The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from North Dakota.

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