Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:  John Barrow
Date: May 17, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. BARROW. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of a motion to instruct the conferees on the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012 to insist on title II of that act, which contains revisions of the North American Energy Access Act, essentially calling for the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Mr. Speaker, in these times of increasing security threats and economic uncertainty, the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline represents a win-win for America's national security and economic interests. Not only will this project create thousands of much-needed jobs, but it will secure America's energy future by reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

By working with our neighbors to the north on an effort that ramps up our domestic energy production, we'll better protect families here at home from the effects of energy market insecurity caused by political and economic troubles in other parts of the world. Estimates vary, but the most conservative estimates predict that this jobs project will create 13,000 new construction jobs and an additional 7,000 manufacturing jobs.

But that's not all, Mr. Speaker. The Keystone XL pipeline, when operating at capacity, will be able to move 840,000 barrels of oil per day into our domestic refining capacity on the domestic production market. To put that in perspective, America imports about 8.4 million barrels per day. The carrying capacity of this pipeline alone is 10 percent of America's net national daily imports. America consumes 20 million barrels of oil a day. The carrying capacity of this pipeline represents 5 percent of current U.S. daily consumption of oil products.

The U.S. produces about 8.8 million barrels a day. This pipeline will have the capacity to bring in 10 percent more than what we're already producing on a daily basis here in this country. It also represents approximately a one-third increase in the total daily imports from Canada. And if that wasn't enough, the 840,000 barrels a day this pipeline carries comes real close to the 900,000 barrels that we import every day from Venezuela.

I don't know about anybody else, but any policy in this country that private enterprise is going to lead the way on and pay for that can cause us to tell the folks in Venezuela, Good-bye, we'll see you later, that's good economic policy and good energy policy for this country.

Mr. Speaker, we've held hearings on this matter. We've engaged the public and energy experts. We've checked and rechecked for environmental soundnessand debated for hours on the floor of this House. After all that, what we're left with is a very well-vetted and, I think, worthwhile project that is ready to start construction. For the jobs and for the energy security, the folks I represent want us to get moving on this. We have an opportunity to make that happen in the highway bill conference that's currently under way.
I encourage my colleagues to support my motion to instruct so we can send that message loud and clear to the conferees.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. UPTON. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, this amendment is really about jobs and the economy. The President, you will remember, in a national address in January, said he would do whatever it takes to create U.S. jobs. That's what this bill does. It creates, by just about everybody's estimate, 20,000 direct jobs and more than 100,000 indirect jobs. And I would note that under Ed Whitfield's leadership, the chairman of the Energy and Power Subcommittee, we went through regular order on this bill last year. We held hearings, we held a subcommittee markup, we had a full committee markup, and last summer we passed it on the House floor by almost a two-to-one margin; obviously, bipartisan.

Mr. Speaker, we consume about 18 or 19 million barrels of oil every day. We produce only 8 to 9 million barrels a day. This is a pipeline that will bring us 800,000 barrels a day from our friends, the Canadians.

We've waited 3 years. You'll remember that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in October of 2010 that she was inclined to support this. And in August of last year she said, We'll have the review done before the end of the year. It's not been done yet. And even though this House passed the bill by a significant margin, the Senate did not act. That's why this bill has been attached to a couple of different bills, and now it's part of the highway bill. I support the gentleman's instruction to the conferees to include this.

The route has been rerouted through Nebraska. They now support this new route. We have spent billions of dollars in our refineries across the country trying to get ready for this new source of oil coming from our friends, the Canadians. So what happens if we continue to say no? The Canadians, for sure, are going to still produce this. They're still going to mine the oil sands in Alberta. But it's not going to come here. It's going to go to China. China is prepared to spend with the Canadians literally billions of dollars to send it there, of which none of it will come back to the United States.

That is not the right answer. No, it's not. That's why it's not only a national security issue as part of the highway bill, but it's also a way that we will know that we will have a steady source of supply.

Now let me just make one more point. Today, we import from Canada 2.6 million barrels of oil every single day. A million barrels of that already is oil sands. In my home State of Michigan, the Marathon refinery outside of Detroit has spent $2.2 billion expanding their refinery, preparing for oil sands--not from Alberta, not from this part of Canada, but other parts--of which the oil sands will then be part of what we consume here in the United States. A million barrels of the 2.6 million that Canada sends us every day is oil sands. What is the problem with expanding that by another 800,000 barrels a day that will produce American jobs and allow us to have less reliance on friends like Venezuela and folks in the Middle East, if we can use our best friend, Canada, to help us provide this oil to the United States?

So I support the gentleman's instruction. I hope that it will pass when we have the vote tomorrow.

I ask unanimous consent that the balance of my time be reserved and under the direction of Mr. Whitfield, the subcommittee chair of the Energy and Power Subcommittee.

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Mr. BARROW. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, some have said that because we are inextricably part of a world market, because we consume more than we produce of this vital commodity that, therefore, we cannot legislate ourselves an island in this process; and since we both produce and consume and produce and export, therefore it follows from that that virtually anything we can get, any new source of conventional energy that we get is going to be a mere conduit, a pass-through to somebody else and a loss to us.

I'd like to point out that we produce in this country some 12 million barrels a day. We export some 2.9 million to 3 million barrels a day. So there's both oil being produced in this country and exported, for a net annual production on a daily basis of 8.8. It does not follow from that that any new sources of energy that we get are going to flow right through this country someplace else. In fact, a study commissioned by the Department of Energy addressed the dynamic effect of limiting our access to unconventional sources of this energy in Canada and allowing that energy to go someplace else.
And a study compiled for the Department of Energy pointed out what the perverse effect of this would be. If we deny ourselves access to this new source of Canadian oil, what will happen is it will go to other countries. And who will fill the gap? Middle Eastern and African OPEC countries will actually increase their shipments to this country. We'll become more dependent upon imports from folks that we don't want to rely upon if we deny ourselves access to those folks we do want to rely upon.

In the words of the study commissioned for the Department of Energy, they would displace, the Canadian oil crudes would be lost to the U.S. market and go instead to Asia. They would displace the world's balancing crudes, Middle Eastern and African, predominantly OPEC grades, which would in turn move to the USA. The net effect would be substantially higher U.S. dependence on crude oils from those sources, the sources we want to wean ourselves off of.

Finally, along this line, it's been said that because we're describing conditions in ordinary terms when the markets are working as we hope they will and as they should, we need to remember, we need to bear in mind there's always the possibility the world market will fail us.

I'm old enough to remember a time in this country's history when we were embargoed. First, in 1973, because we came to the aid of our ally, Israel, in response to the Yom Kippur War, we were embargoed by the OPEC oil countries. Folks who supply a little more than a third of our imports today, at that time, cut us off completely. It happened before. It did happen again in 1979. We were embargoed a second time in the same decade.

We need to bear in mind that while we're concerned about market conditions and the ebb and flow of product and consumption in ordinary times, we also have to gird ourselves for the possibility that we can be embargoed by our current vendors. And against that backdrop, access to North American oil, in time of emergency, can have a far greater impact on our economic and national security at that time than the conditions we're talking about and arguing about now in the ordinary course of events.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. BARROW. Mr. Speaker, I encourage the conferees to include approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. It will get Americans back to work. And while we're developing the alternative energy sources of the future, it will reduce our current dependency on purchasing oil from countries that don't share our values.

I understand the reasons why some folks are opposed to any new and unconventional sources of traditional energy that we rely on. The argument essentially is: More of the same means we'll increase our dependence upon a dirty source of energy. It will increase our dependence upon oil as the basic feedstock for transportation energy in this country.

Mr. Speaker, you can't increase your dependence beyond 100 percent. We are 100 percent dependent upon oil and its byproducts for the transportation energy in this country. Unlike the energy we get out of the walls or off the grid or out of the light sockets, a whole bunch of different energy feedstocks go into that basic energy commodity--some of it's coal; some of it's natural gas; some of it's nuclear, like the plants we're building in my district at Plant Vogtle; some of it's wind and solar.

We've got a lot of different energy feedstocks that go into the wires and we utilize in every other way. But the transportation energy in this country that we use to push all of our trucks, all of our cars, and all of our tractors, it all comes from oil. We've got all of our transportation eggs in one energy basket.

You can't increase your dependence anymore than 100%. That's where we are. I understand that's what people's concerns are. But I think Secretary Clinton summed it up conclusively just a year and a half or so ago back in October of 2010 at a conference. Secretary of State Clinton was quoted as saying:

We're either going to be dependent on dirty oil from the Persian Gulf or dirty oil from Canada until we can get our act together as a country and figure out that clean, renewable energy is both in our economic interests and in the interests of our planet.

Until we do that, we're going to be getting our oil from one source or the other. As for me, as between the Persian Gulf on the one hand and Canada on the other, I choose Canada.

Meanwhile, I am optimistic about the future of alternative, clean sources of energy, and I want to wean us off the use of foreign oil as much as anyone in this building. But we aren't there yet, we're not there now, and we're not going to be there in the foreseeable future. For as long as oil is our primary source of transportation energy in this country, we can't take it for granted, and we can't pretend that making it more scarce, or what's the same thing, making it more expensive is going to hasten the day we're no longer relying upon it just because we don't like it.

Mr. Speaker, the folks that I represent expect us to vote for jobs and for energy security. We have an opportunity to do that with the transportation bill. I urge my colleagues to support the motion to instruct and to send that message loud and clear to our conferees.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time.

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