Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) and John Hoeven (R-ND) joined a bipartisan group of senators on Thursday to hold a colloquy, or discussion, on the U.S. Senate floor to underscore the importance of the Keystone XL pipeline project for the nation.
One by one, both Republicans and Democrats made common cause, urging the Obama Administration to approve the long-delayed project, saying it will create jobs, boost the nation's economy and help advance the country toward true energy security.
In addition to Hoeven, also participating in the floor discussion were Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.) sent on a statement of support, which Hoeven read into the record.
Hoeven kicked off the discussion citing the average price of gasoline across the nation in February, $3.62, which is now at a historic high and twice what it was four years ago.
He also cited a poll by Harris Interactive that found strong support nationwide for the Keystone XL project. Of 1001 registered voters, 69 percent said they support construction of the pipeline, with only 17 percent saying they oppose it. An even greater majority support greater use of Canadian oil and agree that the project would improve U.S. energy security. Hoeven questioned the administration's four-and-a half-year-delay of the project in defiance of the will of the American people.
The senator also referenced a protest this week that resulted in the arrest of a number of celebrities and well knows activists who chained themselves to the White House fence.
"Maybe, instead of our bipartisan group of senators here arguing the merits of this project, advocating for what the American people want, we should be over handcuffed to the White House fence, because that's what seems to work," Hoeven said, turning the floor over to his colleagues.
What the senators -- both Republican and Democrat -- are saying about the Keystone XL pipeline project:
"The question is: will the administration make this decision on the basis of the facts, or is it going to be made on the basis of small, very vocal interest groups?" Hoeven said. "The facts are that this project won't cost the federal government one single penny, but it will create tens of thousands of jobs. It's about economic growth. This $7 billion project over its life will create hundreds of millions of dollars of tax revenues for state and local governments, as well as the federal government to help with our deficit and debt -- without raising taxes. And it's about energy security for America. Instead of bringing oil in from the Middle East, this is about working with our closest friend and ally, Canada, to meet our energy needs."
"I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this pipeline and how it will help us build a reliable, steady stream of oil and gas--not to mention the jobs it creates. It will give us oil from one of our most dependable and friendliest allies, Canada, as opposed to forcing us to do business with countries that do not share our values," Senator Landrieu said.
"The Keystone XL pipeline will improve our energy security by displacing a considerable amount of crude that we currently import from Venezuela and the Middle East," said Senator Lisa Murkowski, ranking member on the Senate Energy Committee. "I, for one, believe we are better off importing crude from Canada -- our closest neighbor and ally -- than OPEC. Canada is going to develop this resource one way or another -- we should support moving the oil through our country, and take advantage of all the economic and security benefits that will come with building such a large infrastructure project.
"The President of the United States has an opportunity to create tens of thousands of good American jobs with a few strokes of his pen," said Senator Cornyn. "All he has to do is approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would start in Canada and terminate in the Port Arthur region of Texas. With unemployment hovering near 8 percent, and with long-term unemployment at historic highs, I find it utterly remarkable that the President continues to drag his feet.
"Instead of making it easier for our own country to produce energy, the President has made it harder. The Keystone XL pipeline is the perfect example of the Obama Administration's pattern of delaying good projects with excessive regulation," said Senator Barrasso.
"It's no secret that this country is addicted to oil, and we spend an awful lot of money buying our oil from foreign countries," said Senator Joe Manchin. "The Keystone XL pipeline gives us the opportunity to buy oil from our neighbor, one of our greatest trading partners, and our ally: Canada. It's simply common sense that America has a lot to gain by opening up this pipeline because it not only addresses energy security, but is helps create thousands of jobs right here at home."
"Keystone is about jobs and every day we delay the Keystone pipeline is another day we delay creating American jobs," said Senator Max Baucus, who sent a statement of support to the group speaking on the floor.
"Keystone XL pipeline is a practical opportunity to create well-paying jobs for hardworking Americans while decreasing our dependence on foreign sources of oil. This will help build an environment to jumpstart job creation and economic growth," Senator Boozman said.
"The bottom line is the Keystone Pipeline provides good-paying jobs and a secure supply of energy close to home," said Senator Begich. "Alaskans know firsthand the value of energy production to our economy and national security, and I join them in urging the President to follow through on his commitment to an "all of the above' energy approach and get this project done."