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Heidi H.
Democrat ND

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  • Keystone XL Pipeline

    by Senator Heidi Heitkamp

    Posted on 2015-01-07

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    HEITKAMP. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from North Dakota.

    I rise to join my colleagues on the other side who represent States that know a little bit about energy and certainly my colleague from North Dakota who has led this effort from the first day he arrived in the Senate.

    It is no big surprise because we know we can have much oil out there and we can know where the reserves are, but if we don't have the infrastructure to move that oil to market, what it does is drive up prices. I haven't checked today, but oil price is below $40 a barrel. If someone doesn't think that is supply-demand economics 101, they don't understand what is happening. The fact is we have known reserves in places such as North Dakota and Alaska, we have produceable reserves in Canada, and we have an opportunity to continue to develop these resources in a way that benefits in an incredible way American consumers.

    Think about what is happening for the average American family today when they fill up at the pump, and think what that means and how that will ripple through our economy as discretionary income grows. But that is only possible when we have a known supply that is moveable, it is transportable, it is in fact capable of reaching its market or reaching the refinery. That is what we are talking about when we are talking about North American crude oil.

    We are going to hear a lot of stories about this debate about how this crude oil is more dangerous to the environment, how it is different than Bakken crude. Guess what. It is different than Bakken crude, but it is not different than the crude refined in refineries in Texas, where we will be displacing crude that is refined from Venezuela, and we are going to be replacing it with crude that is produced by our friends to the north, Canada.

    So infrastructure is a huge part. In fact, that is why, when Secretary Moniz declared the Quadrennial Energy Review, he looked at not just where is the supply and the future of supply of energy, he focused on transportation of energy because that is a huge part of our challenge.

    As we look at the Keystone XL Pipeline--and we say Keystone XL because a lot of people don't know we already have a Keystone Pipeline. We already have a pipeline that is bringing oil sands from Canada into the United States for refining. A lot of people don't realize this is the second pipeline that will be named Keystone, and it is a pipeline that has been in process for literally a decade, from their planning process to the time they actually ask for a permit.

    I am going to address some of the concerns of some of my colleagues as we hear them so we can kind of lay the groundwork.

    We frequently hear the Keystone XL Pipeline will be exporting, and all of the oil that is coming down will find its way directly into China. That gets said all the time, and guess what the Washington Post gave it: three Pinocchios. It is not true.

    It is going to get refined. It is going to get refined in the United States of America, it is going to displace Venezuelan crude, and it is going to find its way into the American markets and continue to provide that supply that is in fact today driving down costs. So let's get rid of the first argument that this is going to somehow not benefit American consumers, that this is going to somehow find its way onto a barge immediately upon arrival into the gulf. That is the first thing we need to be talking about, which is let's actually have a fact-based discussion about what this pipeline is.

    The second argument we will hear is that this somehow will have a huge effect on climate and on climate change, and for those reasons alone it ought to be rejected. Let's take a look at what the experts who have repeatedly looked at this very issue--because one thing we know that I think is beyond dispute when we talk to the officials in Canada, is that we are going to produce oil sands oil from Canada, regardless of whether we build a pipeline. That oil is going to find its way into the transportation system and quite honestly is going to burden our rail transportation system because we haven't figured out how to build a pipeline.

    So all those who want to confuse the issue about the pipeline versus the development in Canada of the oil sands, let's separate it. Let's look at what in fact is the decision before the United States of America; that is, the decision of whether it is in our national interest to approve a permit for a pipeline.

    I will say this over and over again as we pursue this debate: This is a pipeline and not a cause. So many people have talked about it, and I think in some ways this process has gotten exaggerated on both sides. I mean it is going to be a panacea and prevent all unemployment or it is going to be the worst thing--an Armageddon for the environment. And you know what, this is a pipeline. This is a transportation system. This is an essential part of the infrastructure to bring an important fossil fuel into our country so that it can be refined and utilized by the American people. And by the way, knowing those reserves are there, knowing that we have the reserves we have in the Bakken, and knowing that we are developing more untraditional sources of supply has driven the price down and has created the situation we have today that is saving consumers millions and billions of dollars in our country.

    [[Page S46]] The second thing I want to say is people say we have to respect the process. I respect the process as part of what I have done my whole life--I am a lawyer. So you hear repeatedly about due process and having to go through due process. Occasionally, the process is broken-- 6 years to site a pipeline.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Toomey). The time reserved for the Senator from North Dakota has expired.

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