Hatch calls for moving forward on Keystone Pipeline Construction

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate, spoke on the Senate floor Thursday morning about how a clear and open debate about the Keystone XL Pipeline would make clear that the project ought to move forward.

Text of Hatch’s speech as prepared:

Mr. President, I rise today to join my colleagues—both Democrat and Republican—to urge the swift passage of a bill in the Senate that would create jobs, strengthen our economy, and put more money in Americans’ pocketbooks: the bipartisan Hoeven-Manchin bill to authorize the Keystone XL pipeline.

I want to address the Keystone pipeline project and why it’s important, but I first want to focus on how the Keystone debate reflects on the state of the Senate and on good governance more broadly. After all, this project is now in its sixth year of limbo, waiting for a single permit to be issued. This debate has gone on longer than an entire term of a United States Senator.

My colleague from Florida, Senator Rubio, recently commented that the American public no longer has confidence that the federal government works anymore. He’s right, and the American people are justified in their skepticism. This project is a perfect example of why.

A debate over the merits of and drawbacks to the pipeline—a debate that centers upon sound science and agreed-upon ground rules is long overdue. Such a debate represents the best traditions of the Senate: a meeting of minds where respect and tolerance shape the contours of debate. And such a debate is particularly valuable because a common-sense regulatory process is integral to a sound economy and the rule of law.

Time and again, President Obama has suggested that an issue such as this is too important to get bogged down in politics, and that we should trust in the integrity of the regulatory process. To this I have two replies.

First, this is exactly the sort of debate that we should be having in the Senate. This is the body that is supposed to debate the important issues of the day. And when a project as important as this is stalled without meaningful justification for so long, our involvement is even more important. In this case, we have sought to legislate according to the best traditions of this body, reaching across the aisle and taking all voices into account.

Second, curtailing debate on this issue has only had the result of turning the construction of what should be an common-sense infrastructure project into an abstraction, a political symbol that has little to do with the actual proposal under consideration. Without discussion of facts and evidence in this chamber—all of which I believe counsel in favor of approving the project—the opposition has been able to obfuscate the facts and avoid having to defend their position.  The Senate is the place where we can best accomplish good policymaking, not political grandstanding, on an issue of such importance.

I was encouraged by yesterday’s colloquy on the resolution to allow the Keystone pipeline to move forward, because it represents a return to the way we should talk about serious issues—that is, through actual debate. But that colloquy and the work we are doing today has been met with further resistance from the White House. Even before we consider any number of amendments from both sides of the aisle, the President has already threatened to veto our legislation calling for pipeline construction to move forward. This is an unfortunate way for the President to begin work with this new Congress.

Our country and North American energy security will greatly benefit from this project. It improves efficiency and energy infrastructure and takes pressure off of moving oil by rail. It will increase our GDP by approximately $3.4 billion annually. And the State Department, which has provided clearheaded analysis of the benefits of this project, has found that Keystone will support roughly 42,000 jobs during the construction phase alone. It will provide refineries with up to 830,000 barrels a day of North American oil.

The Keystone pipeline is an environmentally sound way to transport this oil. In fact, the State Department’s extensive Environmental Impact Statement concluded that building the pipeline would actually be better for the environment than not. We have to be clear here: this oil is going to go to market no matter what—by truck or rail if not by pipeline. Building this pipeline takes this oil off of the tracks, off of the roads, and transports it in a way that is safer, more efficient, more environmentally sound, and better for creating good paying American jobs.

At the end of the day, the Keystone pipeline and so many other bureaucratic failures demonstrate that the regulatory process is broken. It should not take years and years navigating the federal bureaucracy only to have the government decide not to make a decision. Here in this new Congress, we are focused on helping create jobs and getting our economy back on the right track, which is why regulatory reform will be a key art of our agenda over the next two years. I hope the President will change his mind and join us not only in approving this important project, but also in preventing similar abuses from occurring in the future.

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16 Comments

  • Dana January 8, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    It wouldn’t have anything to do with the $26,000 campaign donation you received would it?
    http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/summary.php?ind=E01&cycle=2014&recipdetail=S&sortorder=S&mem=Y

    • mesaman January 8, 2015 at 5:13 pm

      You find this to be unique and unusual for a politician?

    • Big Guy January 8, 2015 at 6:21 pm

      A very misleading comment, DANA. The oil and gas industry as a whole contributes to every Senator. Thirty-six Senators received larger donations than did Senator Hatch. Of the 36, 12 were Democrats and most of those are opposed to Keystone, or at least they were when Harry Reid gave them cover. By an “eyeball” estimate, I would guess Sen. Hatch received less than the average amount from the oil and gas industry which “covers its bases” by supporting virtually all viable candidates. Thanks for the link that is easily used to discredit your comment.

      • Evil Twins Mommy January 8, 2015 at 8:21 pm

        Great comment. BIG GUY I couldn’t of said it any better

    • Evil Twins Mommy January 8, 2015 at 8:20 pm

      DANA you should do some research before opening mouth and inserting foot

      • Dana January 9, 2015 at 6:38 am

        In the grand scheme of things, $26000 isn’t a lot for Keystone to donate. This is the money you see. What YOU ALL obviously don’t see is that this is only the beginning. Parts of Keystone is already in place. His other donors include The Carlyle Group, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Ernst&Young-the accounting firm for the big oil companies. Ask yourself, what is their interest in this project?
        Hatch is already bought and paid for and now is his payback time. And if, as Hatch says this is “… an environmentally sound way to transport this oil.” WHY won’t Canada transport it over their land mass to their West or East coast in order to transport to foreign countries? And lest anyone think this is about jobs and Orrin has your best interest at heart, according to the State Dept. study, there will only be 35 permanent jobs after completion of the pipeline. Hardly worth the damage it will do to the environment.

        • Big Guy January 9, 2015 at 7:34 am

          DANA, DANA, DANA, where do I start with this mish mash?
          Last I checked, Chevron and ConocoPhillips were included in the oil and gas industry and already counted as Hatch donors. The Carlyle Group and Ernst & Young, like many large firms whose businesses are heavily influenced by government policy, donate to almost all viable candidates: Hatch is the rule, not the exception. Sen. Schumer (D-NY) got more from the oil and gas industry than did Sen. Hatch and almost undoubtedly more from The Carlyle Group and Ernst & Young. Is Schumer “bought and paid for” as well?
          Keystone pipeline construction will provide thousands of union jobs for several years and is heavily supported by those unions, a key component of the Democrat base. Like all construction work, the jobs are transitory. Obama has called for infrastructure construction, in no small part because he fears being cast as anti-union for his Keystone opposition. All those infrastructure construction jobs are transitory as well and will result in few permanent jobs. Do you oppose Obama and all construction jobs because they result in few permanent jobs?
          Finally, Canada could indeed build multi-thousand mile pipelines to export its oil. But Keystone is only a few hundred miles long and connects nicely with our huge Gulf coast refinery complex. Do you instead favor continuing to carry oil by rail which is much more environmentally risky than a pipeline? Or do you, like Tom Steyer, want to eliminate all carbon fuels?
          Get real…and get factual.

        • Evil Twins Mommy January 10, 2015 at 12:50 am

          Do yourself a favor and don’t say. anything. I’m not going to waste my time with your so called knowledge. LOL.. Big Guy pretty much said what had to be said. But it is true you have no idea what your talking about

  • koolaid January 8, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    Better check who his campaign contributors are or who is giving money to his family’s organizations.

  • Chris January 8, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    It is amusing that no politician is mentioning what everyone in the energy industry knows–the Keystone XL cannot be built now because oil prices are far too low. Tar sands oil from northern Alberta is very nearly the most expensive oil in the world to produce. It is only viable to ship that oil anywhere if crude prices approach $100 a barrel. If the current collapse in prices holds for more than a few years, the tar sands producers will be crushed. No tar sands, no Keystone XL. Of course, idiot politicians don’t want to worry about economic reality when there is partisan talking to be done. Orrin Hatch couldn’t work his way through a balance sheet if his life depended on it.

    • Big Guy January 9, 2015 at 8:39 am

      CHRIS, if and when the Keystone pipeline is built, it will be built with private funding. And you need not worry: those putting up the risk capital will be keenly aware of the economics. Politicians on both sides of the issue are fighting about whether to grant environmental approval, not whether to build it: economic reality is not a factor in the environmental approval process. (Whether or not politicians are idiots is another question.) And we all can only hope that the price of oil stays below $50 per barrel for “a few years.” Are you banking on it? I’m not.

      • Chris January 9, 2015 at 5:23 pm

        You miss the point. If the pipeline can no longer be built, at least under current market conditions, then the political debate is pointless at this time. The debate is far more about political posturing than it is about environmental issues. If you really believe that those “putting up the risk capital” will be keenly aware of the economics, then you have little, if any, experience in the energy industry. The industry is littered with the bones of foolish investors. If you are not “banking” on oil prices staying low, then you definitely know very little about the oil industry. I am an insider, and I know from years of experience that the Canadian consortium is playing us (Americans) for chumps–getting massive concessions for vague, undeliverable promises of construction largesse. They’ve done it before (it’s so easy to fool greedy politicians and naive citizens), and they are playing their hand masterfully again. If you think that the Canadians have our interests at heart, then I’d love to have you play in my regular poker game.

        • Big Guy January 10, 2015 at 7:50 am

          CHRIS, so you believe our government should refuse to allow Keystone to go forward to protect “foolish investors.” You really are a big government true believer: the “nanny state” will keep all of us from ever doing anything foolish. I don’t have to know anything about oil and gas to say let them invest as they will. If they are so blind as not to realize that “the Canadian consortium is playing us (Americans) for chumps” while you can see it so clearly, so be it. Sorry to hear that your insight and wisdom on this subject is being ignored by the oil and gas industry: it must be frustrating.
          Of course Keystone environmental approval is all about “political posturing.” Obama made it that way by playing to part of the Democrat base, the radical environmental left. To satisfy them, he’s used one flimsy environmental delaying tactic after another to prevent it from going forward. Obama and the radical environmental left are opposed to carbon-based fuels, period. Whether there are enough Democratic senators who support Keystone to overcome a veto remains to be seen: it’s all about politics.

  • BunnyRabbit2015 January 9, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    The liberals don’t want the oil line because they think it’s gonna contribute to “global warming” or some nonsense. God wouldn’t have put the oil there if he didn’t want us to burn it. Same with coal.

    • Evil Twins Mommy January 10, 2015 at 1:06 am

      What.? LOL. You brought up God in this article… Ha ha ha. Really.?

  • Red Rocker January 11, 2015 at 11:26 am

    The USA is playing a game of global oil supply, where we flood the market to weaken the economies of our rivals. This will be at the expense of our environment and our children’s heritage.
    Once our reserves are gone, our rivals will have their boots on our necks.
    We should take the profits from this gambit and develop alternative energy as if our future depends on it. Instead the plutocrats will be richer, and the rest of us will be howling at the doors to their enclaves.

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