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H.R. 3548, The North American Energy Access Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. HARPER. Mr. Speaker, yesterday, in an effort to create American jobs and move energy supply from a friendly trading partner to the United States gulf coast, the House Energy and Commerce Committee favorably reported H.R. 3548 to the full House. H.R. 3548, the North American Energy Access Act, would end a waiting game that has lasted for over 3 years by pushing forward approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

In his State of the Union speech 2 weeks ago, the President promised to significantly expand production of oil and natural gas from offshore and onshore public lands.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, he never mentioned his decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline.

While the President's comments about expanding oil and gas production in the U.S. were welcome news to many, I'm not sure how many people took his pledge seriously given his decision on Keystone XL. I am hopeful that the President will follow through on expanding production. I just wish he would have helped our country reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil while creating tens of thousands of jobs here in America by approving the pipeline application.

The President's excuse for not approving the pipeline application was that he didn't have enough time. Radical environmentalists say that tar sands crude is the dirtiest of all, and they talk as if that's something foreign, something new. Mr. Speaker, I'd like to point your attention to a Friday, February 3, 2012 article on the front page of the National Journal, an article that I believe shows the fallacies in the arguments against the pipeline. The article states that ``despite environmental opposition, the Obama administration has approved a controversial oil-sands pipeline.''

The article refers to an oil-sands pipeline approved by the administration over 2 years ago. On August 20, 2009, Secretary of State Clinton approved a 1,000-mile pipeline with the capacity to carry 800,000 barrels of oil from Canada's oil sands to Wisconsin. Mr. Speaker, if a pipeline that closely mirrors that of the proposed Keystone XL was good enough for the President in August of 2009, why is the Keystone XL pipeline not good enough for him in an election year? If time and the environment were reasons to deny Keystone XL in January 2012, they should have had the same reasons to deny the Canada-Wisconsin pipeline in 2009.

Keystone XL is a shovel-ready construction project that doesn't need a stimulus bill to get it started. Estimates show that the project could create 20,000 construction jobs immediately and could transport more than 1 million barrels of oil per day from Canada and the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota and Montana to gulf coast refineries.

With the ability to transport that amount of friendly oil from our largest trading partner and neighbor to the north, Canada, as well as domestic oil, and with the ability to create an additional estimated 100,000 jobs over the lifetime of the pipeline, it's no wonder why the American public supports Keystone XL. At a time when unemployment and prices at the pump are high and new predictions say gasoline could top $4 this year, it's no wonder that the American public was disappointed in the President's decision.

In a recent installment of the United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection poll, Americans surveyed were asked: Supporters of the pipeline say it will ease America's dependence on Mideast oil and create jobs. Opponents fear the environmental impact of building a pipeline. What about you--do you support or oppose building the Keystone XL pipeline? Sixty-four percent of the respondents favored the construction of Keystone XL and only 22 percent were opposed.

Mr. Speaker, Keystone XL makes sense. It means jobs, energy security, and satisfaction for the American public. The President made a political decision to pander to his extreme environmentalist supporters in a campaign year instead of listening to the majority of the American public, and that was unfortunate.

I think that House Republicans are making it well known that the fight for Keystone XL is not over. Support in the House to move the pipeline forward has been bipartisan, very public, and very well received by the American people. As of yesterday, that support has produced a bill to push Keystone XL forward. I look forward to continuing my commitment to jobs, energy security, and the building of the Keystone XL pipeline.


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