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Kevin C.
Republican ND 0

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  • Providing for Consideration of S. 1, Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act, and Providing for Proceedings During the Period from February 16, 2015, Through February 23, 2015

    by Representative Kevin Cramer

    Posted on 2015-02-11

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    CRAMER. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I thank my friends on the other side as well on the Rules Committee. I have been before them twice now on this topic and have enjoyed it immensely.

    I might say as a word of encouragement with regard to the hamster wheel, because I share the same concerns, but I am also encouraged by the fact that we are actually passing the Senate bill today. As many times as we have tried to pass this, we have never been able to get it to the President's desk. That will happen soon. That is progress, and I think we ought to celebrate the progress of that.

    With regard to being the least productive Congress, veto threats before voting on important things sort of leads to gridlock, I suppose. But I don't think that should stop us from doing our job and forwarding the ideas that our constituents have asked for. My constituents want the Keystone XL pipeline built.

    What we are doing today, as was teed up by the gentleman from Georgia, is, of course, talking about a Senate bill. We passed H.R. 3 when I introduced it the first week in the House, a closed rule, as the gentleman from Florida said, a simple bill. We have passed similar bills in previous Congresses, well vetted. And my colleague from North Dakota, Senator Hoeven, who is really the originator of this whole concept, introduced S. 1.

    The other reason I think we should be encouraged is not only did the Senate have an open process, they voted on 47--at least 47--amendments. That is more than three times as many amendments on S. 1 as the Senate voted on in all of the bills last year. That is progress. That is not hamsters on the wheel.

    [[Page H940]] I want to take a few minutes to describe the amendments that came over from the Senate and why I suggest to leadership--and I am pleased leadership accepted--that we just simply accept the Senate amendments and move this forward rather than going to conference, although I think that would have been a good exercise for a lot of us as well.

    But there were a couple of amendments introduced that deal with energy efficiency programs, as the gentleman from Georgia pointed out, dealing with federally leased and owned property, as well as schools. It sets up programs and processes and gives authority to the Department of Energy to sort of coordinate energy efficiency issues in programs and projects, which I think is a noble goal.

    There is that sense of the Senate that climate change is real and not a hoax. Now, we can throw that out as sort of meaningless. But the reality is that a statement like that passed 98-1 by the Senate is a pretty strong statement. I think the President ought to view that as currency--as currency. He argues that Keystone, because oil sands are somehow supposed to emit more greenhouse gas emissions than other production--I am here to tell you it is not true, and I will point out the very specific facts on that.

    But in the spirit of compromise, he has this statement that I think provides currency for him to go to Paris next December and say: This is the sense of the Congress of the United States. I hope he views it as a positive.

    Senator Mikulski has that amendment--which the gentleman from Florida spoke to--the sense of the Senate that all forms of unrefined and unprocessed petroleum should be subject to the nominal per-barrel excise tax associated with the spill fund.

    While it says it is the sense of the Senate and it isn't put into law, I think it is important to note that we are talking about a tax, an excise tax that is placed on domestic crude, for sure, not placed on--if you can imagine this now--bitumen. Bitumen is the product that comes from the oil sands, and because bitumen is not in the Tax Code, it is not subject to the excise tax. That should be corrected. We should do that in the proper order, probably through the Ways and Means Committee.

    That said, it is important to note that TransCanada is 100 percent responsible for spills and cleaning them up. I sited the first Keystone pipeline through the State of North Dakota, 600 landowners' land. They had some issues in the early going at one of the pumping stations. They did clean it up. It didn't contaminate water or the surrounding area. All of the tools worked properly.

    My point is that they are responsible, and that is as per each State's law. This line will be permitted in each State, and they have to be responsible for cleanup.

    Another one, Senator Cornyn had an amendment: Land or interest in land for the pipeline may only be acquired through constitutionally appropriate means. That only makes sense. Maybe it doesn't need to be stated, but it is important to state, similar to the Barrasso amendment that clarifies that treaties with Indian tribes must remain in effect. That should be obvious as well, but it doesn't help to restate those important points.

    I think that these amendments are important amendments, they are good amendments, and they help broaden the appeal of the bill.

    I want to take this map down and I want to speak to just a few of the merits of the Keystone pipeline bill because I know them very well, the extraordinary benefits of Keystone XL.

    Employment opportunities--Mr. Speaker, according to the U.S. State Department, 42,000 jobs will be supported by the construction. I can assure you, having been on the construction site of the original Keystone bill, it is true. These are real jobs. These are good jobs. Some people refer to them as temporary jobs. Referring to a pipeline project as temporary is like referring to a wind farm as only temporary construction.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.

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