Keystone XL Pipelineby Senator Roy Blunt
Posted on 2015-01-21
BLUNT. Mr. President, I thought last night, as the majority whip
just mentioned, that the President once again showed his sense of why
the majority in the Congress and the majority of people in the country
support the Keystone XL Pipeline. It is not just about the pipeline,
even though he doesn't quite seem ever to get that. It is about whether
we are going to truly take advantage of more American energy.
Clearly, the President suggested that was one of the great accomplishments of his administration. I think we could make the argument--and make it effectively--that his administration hasn't done much to implement the great steps we have made forward. In fact, on public lands and other measures that we were in the process of considering when he became President, [[Page S307]] they have backed away from that rather than stepped forward.
We seem to be unwilling to step forward and embrace this great opportunity that is so much more than the jobs for just the pipeline itself.
I filed two amendments today on the pipeline bill--the topic we are talking about, the topic my good friend from North Dakota has done so much to bring attention to since the day he arrived in the Senate.
It was 4 years ago, when the Keystone XL Pipeline application was only 2 years old at the time. Now 6 years later, we are continuing to miss an opportunity. It seems that on this topic, as once was said about seeking a solution to the Middle East, we can't seem to miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
But the two amendments I have filed deal with a couple of critical issues that relate to our energy future and our infrastructure future. One would be a community affordability amendment where we would have to have a study to look at the impact that all of these EPA regulations have on communities. These are EPA's unfunded mandates on communities, where they tell communities they have to do things but really don't give the community any idea how to pay for it.
The Presiding Officer and I are from two States that have many small communities. Those small communities often have a water system, a sewer system, and a storm water system, and the EPA comes in and says: Here is what we want you to do--maybe not with one of those, maybe with all of those--the air quality, the water quality.
I know the EPA has one regulation on water where the solution can't cost more than 2 percent of the median income over a specific period of time.
Now, 2 percent of your income, if you haven't been paying it for your water bill, your sewer bill or your whatever bill--2 percent of your income is taken right off the top of your income. It makes a difference to most families, but at least there is a cap there. But you can have that 2 percent on increasing the cost of the water system and another 2 or 4 or 5 percent on increasing the storm water system, and somebody has to pay those bills.
What this amendment does is suggest that we figure out who is paying those bills, what is a reasonable way to pay those bills, and how those bills can be paid. We know on the Senate floor, and the President knows, and the EAP knows who pays those bills and the people who have access to those services. There is no mythical payee here. The person who pays your utility bill is you, and if there is increased cost to the utility system, that comes to you. The person who pays your water bill is you.
So I believe we need to have a coordinated effort to see how those projects impact communities, impact families, and understand how this works.
So this amendment that I filed today directs the EPA to collaborate with the National Academy of Public Administration to review existing studies of costs associated with major EPA regulations. The amendment also directs the administration to determine how different localities can effectively fund these projects. The end result would be to come up with a working definition of a phrase they use a lot--individual and community affordability--but I can't find any evidence that this phrase--individual and community affordability--really means anything.
The amendment I filed today has already been endorsed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties, and the chamber of commerce in my hometown, Springfield, MO.
The other amendment I am filing, submitted as a sense of the Senate, is that the President's U.S.-China greenhouse gas amendment would be looked at in a different way. This amendment is cosponsored by my colleague from Oklahoma, Senator Inhofe. It talks about the agreement negotiated between the President and the People's Republic of China and, in fact, says this agreement really has no force and effect because frankly, Mr. President, it already has no force and effect in China. Of the two parties the President says have agreed to this, we are the only one who would have to do anything. We think this is a bad idea--Senator Inhofe and I--and I think others will join us. It is a bad deal for our country, it is economically unfair, it is environmentally irresponsible, and once again it produces exactly the opposite result of what we would want.
First of all, I think the Constitution is pretty clear on agreements negotiated between countries. There is a Senate role to be played. It requires the advice and consent of the Senate. The Senate should insist we do that job. Whether it is here or on any other agreements with other countries, those agreements need to be consented to by the Senate. It happens to say that in the Constitution.
These agreements, under this amendment, also would have to be accompanied by actions that may be necessary to implement the agreement, including what it costs to implement. The amendment says the United States should not sign bilateral or other international agreements on greenhouse gases that will cause serious economic harm to the United States. It also says the United States should not agree to any bilateral or international agreement imposing unequal greenhouse gas commitments on the United States.
The reason I filed this amendment is simple. The agreement the President unilaterally negotiated with China and announced last November is a bad deal for workers and a bad deal for families, whether those workers are in Missouri or Arkansas or anywhere else in the country today. The agreement requires the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 26 to 28 percent below the 2005 levels by 2025. It allows the Chinese to increase their emissions until 2030.
So last night the President said in his State of the Union Address that the United States will double the pace at which we cut carbon pollution and China committed for the first time to limiting their emissions. Well, let's be very frank about that. The President is actually right. He has agreed that we would double the pace, somewhere around 26 to 28 percent below the 2005 levels in the near term, but the Chinese have agreed actually to be allowed to increase their emissions for another 15 years and then they would consider--they would consider--reducing emissions after that. What this does is drive jobs and opportunity to China and other countries that care a lot less about what comes out of the smokestack than we do. We lose the jobs we otherwise would have had. We try to solve a global problem on our own even though we have made great strides already, some of which were cost-effective, but they get less cost-effective all the time.
I am grateful my colleagues allowed me to have a few extra minutes. I have filed these amendments, and we will be talking more about them and the Keystone XL Pipeline issue over the next few days. I look forward to having a vote on these amendments and the vote on the Keystone XL Pipeline.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The assistant Democratic leader.