Senate Pro Tem Bingman Statement on TransCanada Gulf Coast Project
Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman issued the following statement Monday following TransCanada’s announcement of reapplication for a Presidential Permit application to complete the Keystone XL pipeline project as well as TransCanada’s intent to proceed with construction of a pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. This section of pipeline is projected to create more than one thousand direct jobs in Oklahoma alone.
“Gas prices have more than doubled since President Obama’s first day in office. Meanwhile, we’ve got plenty of oil just sitting in a terminal in Cushing, Oklahoma, waiting to be refined,” said Bingman, R-Sapulpa. “President Obama continues to stonewall a common-sense business plan in the Keystone XL pipeline—one that would create thousands of jobs and put us on the path to an energy future powered by American resources and ingenuity.”
“I applaud TransCanada for proceeding with construction of the southern portion of Keystone XL. Thousands of Oklahomans will see the benefit in jobs and dollars flowing into our economy, and our country will be more secure for it.”
In August 2011, the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was released, kicking off a 30-day public comment period and 90-day federal agency comment period. The FEIS addressed all concerns raised by EPA in previous iterations, and was in fact largely supportive of the project. After weighing all options and outcomes, the State Department identified its “preferred alternative,” which was to build the pipeline as currently proposed. Just as the federal agency comment period neared completion and the State Department appeared ready to issue a National Interest Determination, on November 10, 2011, the Obama administration changed course and announced it would seek a new route and a new environmental study, which would take another 15 to 18 months.
The State Department itself has details about the extensive review process that has already been undertaken for the Keystone XL pipeline. Ironically, at least as late as December 31, 2011 (and perhaps still), the State Department website still says a final decision is expected by the end of the year. This shows that the full and comprehensive review was on track for completion until the political decision to delay the project yet again, this time for more than a year, until after the next election. Unfortunately a delay of this length could very well jeopardize the entire project.
The Obama administration points to concerns in the state of Nebraska as its reason for delaying the entire Keystone XL pipeline project. However, there is no federal role – and no Presidential Permit required – for an intra-state pipeline like the re-route within the state of Nebraska. The legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama makes clear that the State Department’s existing Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL pipeline stands. The law states any environmental review of the modified route through Nebraska will be performed by the State of Nebraska.
Congress members Responses
John Hoeven (R. ND) The Keystone XL pipeline represents a big step toward true North American energy independence, reducing our reliance on Middle Eastern oil and increasing our access to energy from our own nation and our closest ally, Canada, along with some oil from Mexico -- to 75% of our daily consumption, compared with 70% now.
That decades-long goal for our country is finally within reach, but we need to stay focused on the big picture, and we need to act. This $7 billion, 1,700-mile, high-tech transcontinental pipeline is a big-time, private-sector job creator, and it will also hold down the gas prices for consumers and reduce our energy dependence on an unstable part of the world. Finally, it will do so with good environmental stewardship.
That's why I, along with 44 of my colleagues from across the nation, introduced new legislation to move the project toward approval and construction after President Barack Obama's rejection of the project last month.
From an environmental perspective, the project has been under review since September 2008, more than three years, and the State Department's environmental review, completed in August 2011, found "no significant impacts on most resources" providing environmental restrictions are met. Further, our new legislation includes all federal and state safeguards and sets no time limit on Nebraska's ability to further review the pipeline's route through the state, the only portion of the route in contention. Additionally, 80% of the new Canadian oil sands development is being developed "in situ," meaning, it has a similar carbon footprint and emissions as conventional oil wells.
If the Keystone XL pipeline isn't built, Canadian oil will still be produced -- 700,000 barrels a day of it -- but instead of coming down to our refineries in the United States, instead of creating jobs for American workers, instead of reducing our dependence on a turbulent part of the world, that oil will be shipped to China.
It will have to be carried there on large oil tankers, creating more carbon emissions, and it will be processed at facilities with weaker environmental safeguards.
Frank Lucas, Oklahoma Representative said "This project would create 20,000 direct jobs and spur the creation of 118,000 spin-off jobs. Additionally, the pipeline will carry 100,000 barrels per day of oil from the U.S. Bakken to Oklahoma and Gulf Coast refineries, while in-turn easing our dependence on foreign countries for U.S. oil supply.
"This project is a huge opportunity to boost job creation in America. According to some estimates, construction of the pipeline would immediately create 13,000 American jobs including pipefitters, welders, mechanics, electricians, heavy equipment operators etc. In addition, another 7,000 manufacturing jobs would be created at the onset of construction.
“According to Trans Canada, the constituents of Oklahoma’s Third Congressional District will see tremendous benefits from the Keystone Pipeline project. In Oklahoma alone, it is estimated that the project will bring $1.2 billion in new spending in Oklahoma’s economy, increase personal income by $874 million, add more than $25 million in state and local tax revenues, and more than $1 billion in increased gross state product.
“President Obama has said job creation is his top priority, so why is he delaying this shovel-ready project that will create tens of thousands of jobs in America? At a time when we are facing an unemployment rate of 8.5 percent, I believe the President should make the decision to proceed with construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which will put thousands of unemployed Americans back to work. The time to act is now. We cannot afford to ignore this opportunity to spur job creation and decrease our dependency on foreign oil.”
It is not just the Republicans who are disappointed in the stall tactics.
“As I said before, families in this country want elected officials to address the jobs crisis and restore economic growth. This project is estimated to create thousands of high-paying jobs and will provide access to an affordable, secure source of energy. The U.S. now relies on crude oil pipelines nationwide to move 71 percent of its oil and petroleum products. The Obama Administration’s review of the project concludes that it presents no significant environmental impacts. This delay is just playing politics with American jobs and American energy security,” Jim Matheson D. Utah said in a press release.
U.S. Congressman Jason Altmire (D- PA) issued the following statement; "The rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline permit is a missed opportunity to drastically turn this economy around. This pipeline would have created thousands of new jobs and helped to ensure our energy independence. Make no mistake, this pipeline will be built, but now Canadian jobs will be created and China and its markets will benefit from the oil transported through this pipeline. At a time when American families and businesses are saving to cover rising fuel costs, a pipeline to the Gulf Coast could provide a savings to them. I strongly urge the president to reconsider his objection to this pipeline. The positive impact it can have on our country is too great to pass up."
Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR): “U.S. Congressman Mike Ross of Prescott "We need jobs and we need jobs now. Building and opening this pipeline are commonsense, straightforward actions our government can take to create private-sector jobs, boost economic development and lower the price of fuel for all Americans."
Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY): “With conflicts overseas driving up prices at the pump and so many Americans out looking for work, I am deeply disappointed that the White House has formally rejected the Keystone XL pipeline permit," said Owens. "As we work toward a long-term renewable energy program, beginning construction on the Keystone pipeline is the right short-term solution for the nation’s energy concerns and putting Americans back to work.”
According to a recent Pew Poll there is strong public support for building the pipeline. About two-thirds (66%) think the government should approve the building of the pipeline, while 23% say it should not be approved.
President “We Can’t Wait” Obama says he just didn’t have enough time to make a decision. But “Keystone XL has been planned for years,” notes the Wall Street Journal. USA Today says the permit process “has been going on since 2008” and the rejection comes “more than three years into the approval process.” As Speaker Boehner put it, “The president expedited the approval of the Solyndra loan project, but won’t approve a project that’s been under review for over three years.”