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Public Statements

Keystone XL Pipeline

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. CONAWAY. I thank the gentleman from Colorado for allowing me to join in; and although I'm not a part of the freshman class, I hope they won't toss me out of the Chamber as a result of that indiscretion.

I wanted to walk us through kind of the process by which TransCanada has gone through trying to laboriously apply and comply with all of the rules, regulations, and hoops that anybody who tries to do a project of this scope has to go through.

They began in September of 2008 when they filed their application for a permit to build this pipeline. As has been mentioned, the State Department would not be involved in this at all except for the fact that this pipeline crosses an international border. If this were just within the United States, the State Department and the President would be out of the loop in this instance. But because this is an international problem, then the State Department gets a whack at this deal.

In April 2010, the State Department issued their draft Environmental Impact Study. Then, a couple of months later, in June of 2010, EPA weighed in with the results of their technical review and said that the draft Environmental Impact Study was deficient and didn't

provide the scope and the detail, if necessary, for decision-makers to make their mind up. Bureaucratic nonsense for stopping things from going forward, so that it allows one group of folks in the administration to brag on how hard we're pushing on this issue, while all the time they've got a backstop at the EPA that knows that they're not going to move anything forward.

And then October 2010, State Department issued a supplemental draft Environmental Impact Study. Only in America can you come up with these kinds of titles to simply laying a pipeline across this country. Again the EPA weighed in and said, no, no, no, this supplemental one is deficient, and you've got to continue to give us information; although, when asked a little later on that month, Secretary of State Clinton was asked at a press conference, kind of where are we with respect to the pipeline approval process, she commented that we're inclined to say ``yes'' to the pipeline.

And then in April 2011, the EPA again said in a filing that the supplemental draft Environmental Impact Study was deficient.

Finally, by August of 2011, the State Department issued its final Environmental Impact Study, allowing for a 30-day public comment and a 90-day agency comment. And of course it was during this agency comment period that the State Department decided that a new route was necessary, that the original route that was planned and the alternatives going across the Ogallala, the 13 alternatives that were assessed, that this one really was the best, that somehow a new route was necessary and that gave rise to the charade that we saw played out where the President decided he was going to wait until after the election, and then Congress weighed in and said, no, you need to make that decision sooner.

The State Department's decision to go or no go on it has to be based on a finding that the pipeline is not in our national interest. Transporting this oil of almost 1.4 million barrels of crude and bitunium across this country to U.S. refineries would have to not be in the United States' best interest. And, in fact, that's what the State Department found. After we passed the law requiring the President to make a decision, the State Department suddenly decided that building this pipeline was no longer in the national interest and allowed the President then to say what he said. The President's wrongheadedness on this issue couldn't be more self-evident on its face.

I want to talk real quickly about the safety issue. You hear a lot about that. I come from west Texas--Midland, Odessa, San Angelo. There are thousands and thousands of miles of pipeline crisscrossing my part of the State. In fact, there are three oil pipelines that run through the front yards of the people who live across the street from me. And we've lived there for almost 15 years now, not a bit of trouble with the pipelines. And they're inspected all the time, both inside and out and observed from the air, and this type of stuff. So pipeline safety is not an issue.

Drilling safety, by the way, I just wanted to pitch this in real quickly. When I left my home yesterday morning at 5:45 to come here, as I was closing the garage door, I could see the lights on the crown of a drilling rig less than a half mile from my house that's in operation. It's been in operation for about 4 or 5 months now drilling wells that are actually that close to my house, and it's being drilled inside the city limits of Midland, Texas.

So when we talk about not in my backyard or all of the other kinds of reasons why people don't want oil and gas production around them, I come from a part of the State where it's a badge of honor, and, in fact, it's helpful on the 20th of the month each month when the royalty checks show up. So this industry has a great record of being able to operate soundly not only in the drilling and exploration phases, but also in the production and transportation issues across.

Let me give you one quick thing, and I'll close. The Wall Street Journal, on the 19th, had made a pretty good statement. It said:

The central conflict of the Obama Presidency has been between the jobs and growth crisis he inherited and the President's hell-for-leather pursuit of his larger social policy ambitions. The tragedy is that the economic recovery has been so lackluster because the second impulse keeps winning. Yesterday came proof positive with the White House's repudiation of the Keystone XL pipeline, TransCanada's $7 billion shovel-ready project that will support tens of thousands of jobs if only it could get the requisite U.S. permits. Those jobs, apparently, can wait.

And a couple of paragraphs later, very succinctly, said, ``This is, to put it politely, a crock.''

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