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Lisa M.
Republican AK

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  • Keystone XL Pipeline

    by Senator Lisa Murkowski

    Posted on 2015-01-07

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    MURKOWSKI. To my friend and colleague from North Dakota, it is all about infrastructure.

    In Alaska, my home State, we have boundless supplies of oil and natural gas, but until we were able to build that 800-mile pipeline across two mountain ranges to deliver oil from Alaska's North Slope to tidewater in Valdez, that oil didn't do anybody any good. Today,the oil pipeline in Alaska is less than half full.

    So we are working to try to figure out how we can do more as a State to contribute more to our Nation's energy needs, to allow us as a State to be producing more for the benefit not only of our State but of the Nation as well, but we are held back by policies that limit us. So it is policies and it is infrastructure. It is absolutely infrastructure.

    We are trying to move Alaska's natural gas to market as well. But, again, if we don't have the infrastructure, it sits. It stays. It doesn't benefit consumers, it doesn't create jobs, and it doesn't help any of us out.

    So Keystone truly is about infrastructure. I thank my colleague from North Dakota for leading on this issue for years now and for reintroducing the legislation, S. 1, the first bill to be filed in the Senate this year. It will be among the first bills to pass in this new Congress and appropriately so. This is a measure that not only enjoys bipartisan support in the Senate, it enjoys broad support over in the House, and it enjoys support across our Nation for great reason. So why are we where we are? Why are we looking at this situation and saying there is so much frustration going on? Senator McConnell has promised to allow open and full debate on the Keystone XL Pipeline project, the legislation in front of us. I think we are looking forward to it. As the chairman of the energy committee, I am looking forward to robust debate on Keystone XL and what it will provide for this country in terms of jobs and in terms of opportunities.

    We are all frustrated. We are all frustrated by a President's decision--or unwillingness, really, to make a decision about this pipeline. It has been 2,301 days and counting since the company seeking to build it submitted an application for this cross-border permit-- 2,301 days. That is more than 6 years ago.

    Yesterday the President was finally able to make a decision. He issued his statement of administration policy. In his statement he says that by advancing this measure, it would cut short consideration of important issues.

    Excuse me, Mr. President--cut short a process that has been underway for over 6 years? That is amazing to me. Again, when we talk about decisions, let's get moving with this.

    The President seems to be advancing some pretty interesting things when it comes to the energy discussion. He was quoted in an interview just this morning in the Detroit News. He basically told Americans that we are enjoying lower energy prices right now, but we had better enjoy them fast because they are not going to last.

    He said we have to be smart about our energy policy. I am with you there, Mr. President. We do have to be smart about our energy policy. But to think the suggestion is just enjoy low prices while they last, take advantage of the sunshine--no. Mr. President, your energy policies need to make sense for today, for the midterm, and for the long term. For the long term and for the short term we need to make sure we have infrastructure that will allow us the energy supply that is so important to this country. It amazes me we would be so defeatist with this approach.

    We have an opportunity in this Congress. We had an opportunity this morning in the energy committee. We had scheduled a hearing on the Keystone XL Pipeline. We were going to hear testimony on original legislation to approve Keystone XL as we did last year on a bipartisan basis. But as Members in the body know, there was objection to that unanimous consent. We had to postpone the hearing. I quite honestly was surprised. It would have been nice to know an objection was coming before we had organized the hearing, before we had invited witnesses, before we had completed all the preparation. We are going to do our best in our committee to adhere to regular order. I hope our colleagues will work with us.

    I wish to introduce for the Record some of the testimony we received from the three witnesses who graciously agreed to participate in our hearing we had scheduled for this morning.

    Andrew Black, president and CEO of the Association of Oil Pipe Lines, described pipeline safety issues and the gains Keystone XL would bring to the American economy in terms of jobs and payrolls. An excerpt from his testimony is as follows: While there is much controversy associated with the Keystone XL Pipeline, the facts are that pipelines are the safest way to transport crude oil and other energy products. A barrel of crude oil has a better than 99.999 percent chance of reaching its destination safely by pipeline, safer than any competing transportation mode.

    A second witness we had invited was David Mallino, legislative director of the Laborers' International Union of North America. In his testimony he explored the positive jobs impact of the pipeline and responded to some environmental concerns. Here is an excerpt from Mr. Mallino's testimony: Regardless of characterizations by the project's opponents, it is indisputable that jobs will be created and supported in the extraction and refining of the oil, as well as in the manufacturing and service sectors.

    We also invited Greg Dotson, vice president for energy policy at the Center for American Progress. He submitted his testimony in opposition. We made sure we had opposition testimony presented as well. He discussed climate change. He responded to the arguments in favor of Keystone. While he may be an opponent of the pipeline and as usual would have been outnumbered by the supporters of the project, I will still reference his testimony for the Record.

    A copy of the testimony of Mr. Black, Mr. Mallino, and Mr. Dotson [[Page S45]] may be found on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee Web site.

    I do believe that had we been allowed to hold the hearing this morning, we would have heard very strong bipartisan statements in support of Keystone XL from many members of our committee. The majority of our committee supports this pipeline and is already cosponsoring this bill.

    I will close my comments by assuring members of this body, we are in day 2 of this 114th Congress. This is not going to be our only debate on energy legislation over the years. I know it has been a long 7 years since we have had comprehensive energy legislation. A lot has changed. A lot of people have great ideas to improve and reform our policies, and I welcome those ideas. I am looking forward to the debate, to advancing these proposals through the energy committee. I think we can make significant progress on supply and infrastructure, on efficiency, on accountability. Those areas in particular should be the forum or the focus of an energy bill that we would hope to report out.

    We are going to work hard on the energy committee. We are planning on legislating. Keystone XL is a natural point for this Congress because it has been delayed for so long, 2,301 days. It is clear this President is not going to make a decision on this, so the Congress needs to make it instead.

    I look forward to coming back to the floor in a couple days when we have S. 1 officially in front of us. We are going to have good debate on it. I look forward to working with my colleague who has been so determined on this issue for so long. His leadership has been key in getting us here, but we need to finish it. We need to make the connects so we can move the resource and provide jobs for this country and for our allies and friends in Canada.

    I again thank my friend and look forward to these next couple days and the next couple weeks where we will have an opportunity to put this before the American people on the floor of the Senate.

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