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John H.
Republican ND

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  • Nomination of Brian Morris to Be United States District Judge for the District of Montana

    by Senator John Hoeven

    Posted on 2013-12-11

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    Read More about Nomination of Brian Morris to Be United States District Judge for the District of Montana

    HOEVEN. Mr. President, I and my colleagues stand here holding the floor in defense of fair and free debate, and the longstanding traditions of the Senate that promote consensus.

    We are here working on nominations because the majority leader has determined that is the agenda for today. But there are important issues we need to move to: the Defense reauthorization bill, the Water Resources Development Act, the farm bill, the budget, and other vitally important legislation. We need to move to these bills and we need to deal with them in a bipartisan way. Instead, we continue to work on nominees. We are working on nominees without the discussion and the debate and the consideration and, most importantly, without that bipartisan consensus which has always been a hallmark of the Senate. Because of the unilateral change to the longstanding rules of the Senate, that consensus is no longer required for advice and consent; a simple partisan majority will do.

    I would use time today to talk about need for bipartisanship, bipartisanship in nominations, but also bipartisanship in the important legislation that we need to address for the good of our country, legislation such as the right kind of health care reform. I have provided real-life stories from citizens from my State about the impact that the Affordable Care Act, ObamaCare, is having on them and their lives and why we need to replace it with market-based reforms, a step- by-step comprehensive approach that fosters choice and competition. We have put forward proposals to do that.

    I have also used time today to talk about other important issues that we need to advance on a bipartisan basis; for example, the farm bill. We need a 5-year farm bill. We are currently operating under an extension. That extension expires at the end of the year. We need to get a farm bill in place, and a farm bill is a great example of how we do things on a bipartisan basis, not only in the Senate but also in the House.

    I wish to talk about another subject that is vitally important to our country, to our economy, to job creation, and to national security, that also needs to be advanced and needs to be advanced in a bipartisan way, and that is energy.

    I want to provide a specific example; that is, the Keystone XL Pipeline. I know the Presiding Officer wishes to see that project approved. That is the point. This is a project that will create jobs, create economic activity, it will create greater energy security, it is something that we can work on with our closest friend and ally in the world, Canada. It is something that goes to national security so we are no longer dependent on the Middle East for oil, and it is something that is supported on a bipartisan basis and there is strong support from the American people.

    The polls show somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of the American public supports this project and wants to see it move forward.

    It has now been more than 5 years since the permit applications were submitted to the State Department for the Keystone XL Pipeline project--more than 5 years in the application process and still no decision--an exhaustive review process, including five environmental impact statements, showing no significant impact to the environment. The most recently issued draft statement was only last spring. The consent of every single State along the route of the pipeline is in place. Every single State on the route supports and approves the project, with the backing of a majority of Congress. Legislation to approve the project has passed in the House and we have passed it in the Senate only to have the President turn it aside.

    As I said a only minute ago, it has the support of the American people. More than 70 percent--in the most recent poll--of the American people support moving forward with this project. Despite all of this support, the Keystone XL Pipeline project is still awaiting decision from the President of the United States.

    The long wait for approval is troubling enough, but it represents a larger issue for our Nation and begs a bigger question for all of us who serve our States and the American people in this institution: How will America ever build an all-of-the-above energy policy if the President takes more than 5 years to approve only one piece of a comprehensive plan? The Presiding Officer has seen this issue before in his State when it comes to the Alaska pipeline, how for years and years it was worked on until it was finally approved. Once approved, not only is it a vitally important piece of infrastructure for the State of Alaska, but contrary to all the concerns that were raised in regard to the Alaska pipeline, such as the environmental concerns, it has proven to work and work very well.

    They addressed the concerns and the project was approved. The same is true for the Keystone XL Pipeline.

    To recount briefly, this $7 billion, 1,700-mile high-tech pipeline will carry oil not only from Alberta, Canada, to refineries in Oklahoma and the Texas Gulf Coast, but it will also carry growing quantities of sweet crude from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota, my State, and also Montana--light, sweet, Bakken crude, the highest quality oil produced.

    Even by modest estimates it will create more than 40,000 jobs. There have been a lot of estimates out there, some much higher. But the State Department itself, the administration's own State Department has come out after more than 5 years of study and said that this project will create more than 40,000 jobs. At a time when unemployment is still 7 percent, these are good jobs, jobs that put Americans back to work.

    [[Page S8752]] It will create more than 40,000 jobs, boost the American economy, and raise much-needed revenues for States and the Federal Government. It is not raising revenues by raising taxes, it is raising revenues through economic growth. That is the way to do it--not higher taxes but through economic growth.

    Further, and perhaps most importantly, it will help put our country within striking range of a long-sought goal, a vitally important goal for our country, true energy security. For the first time in generations, the United States--with its friend and ally Canada--will have the capacity to produce more energy than we use, truly, North American energy independence, eliminating our reliance on oil from the Middle East, Venezuela, and other volatile parts of the world. This is something Americans very much want.

    When we see in the polls they support this project by more than 70 percent, it is with a clear recognition of what are we doing getting oil from the Middle East when we should be getting it from ourselves in this country and from our closest friend and ally Canada. We absolutely can do it, we can do it to an extent that is beyond our needs, and we can do it in short order, easily within the next 5 years if we approve projects such as this one.

    Now we produce about 60 percent of our fuel domestically. We still import 40 percent, much of it from the Middle East, and other areas of the world that are hostile to our interests.

    The question is why would we want to import oil from an unstable region of the world when we can import it and when we can work with our closest friend and ally Canada, as well as move it from parts of our country that produce that oil, such as my State and others, and transport it to our refineries.

    The 40 percent that we don't produce domestically has to come from someplace else. Why not from our closest friend and ally Canada. With a true all-of-the-above approach to energy development in this country, including projects such as the Keystone XL Pipeline project, I absolutely believe we can be energy independent within 5 years.

    The argument has been advanced that the oil sands will increase carbon emissions and that failing to build the Keystone XL Pipeline will somehow reduce emissions.

    Let us look at the facts. Let us look at this claim more closely. Today an ever increasing percentage of new recovery in the oil sands is being accomplished in situ. That means with technology that makes the oil sands carbon footprint comparable to conventional drilling.

    In fact, the oil sands industry has reduced greenhouse gas emissions per barrel of oil produced by an average of 26 percent since 1990 and with some facilities achieving reductions as high as 50 percent--a 50- percent reduction in carbon emissions. Today heavy crude from the Middle East--and even from California--produces more carbon emissions over its life cycle than the Canadian oil sands.

    Also, we need to factor in that if the pipeline is not built from Alberta to the United States, a similar pipeline will be built to Canada's Pacific coast.

    What does that mean? That means from there the oil will be shipped on tankers across the Pacific Ocean, a much larger and more sensitive ecosystem than the Sandhills--which, of course, have been at issue in terms of the route of the pipeline. It will be shipped across the ocean to be refined in facilities in China with weaker environmental standards and more emissions than our refineries in the United States.

    The United States, moreover, will continue to import its oil from the Middle East, again on tankers so that again has to be transported across the ocean. Factor in the cost of trucking and railing the product to market overland, and the result, contrary to the claims of opponents, will be more emissions, more CO2 emissions, and a less secure distribution system without the Keystone XL Pipeline than we will have if it is built.

    In fact, the administration's own State Department has released three draft Environmental Impact Statements finding ``no significant impacts'' on the environment.

    Let me read that again. In fact, the administration's own State Department has released three draft Environmental Impact Statements finding ``no significant impacts'' on the environment.

    What does the administration do? They delay and ask for another Environmental Impact Statement.

    What is going on? In its latest analysis in March, the State Department concluded that ``there would be no substantive change in global greenhouse gas emissions'' associated with the Keystone XL Pipeline.

    That raises another important point. The White House has said repeatedly they ``don't want to get ahead of the process,'' but the President effectively abandoned the process more than 2 years ago when he halted the project by executive action. Had he not, the State Department, in keeping with the usual process, would have issued a decision on the permit by December of 2011. That is according to a letter that was sent to me by Secretary Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State at that time, which she sent to me in August 2011.

    I wish to point out that this body, the Senate, as well as the House of Representatives, has embraced the Keystone XL project with bipartisan majorities. Congress has expressed support for the Keystone XL with two majority votes in the Senate and several bipartisan letters to the President. The American people have also expressed overwhelming support for the project, as I have stated.

    In a Harris poll released this summer, 82 percent of voting Americans voiced support for the Keystone XL Pipeline project. I want to emphasize that and say it again. In a Harris poll released this summer, 82 percent of voting Americans voiced support for the Keystone XL Pipeline project. According to Harris, 9 in 10 Republicans and nearly 80 percent of Democrats and independents believe the pipeline is in our national interest.

    In July, Senator Landrieu and I led a bipartisan group of our colleagues to introduce a concurrent resolution declaring the Keystone XL Pipeline project in the national interest of the United States and calling on President Obama to approve it.

    The resolution notes that every study conducted by the State Department, including the Department's draft Environmental Impact Statement issued in May, has found no significant impacts to the environment.

    This is the text of S. Con. Res. 21.

    Expressing the sense of Congress that construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline and the Federal approvals required for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline are in the national interest of the United States.


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