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Public Statements

Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 2 minutes.

I offer an amendment that responds, I believe, to the importance of the issue and also to the purpose of the underlying bill, and it deals with safety.

My amendment delays the date upon which the bill can be implemented until such time that the Federal Government is no longer operating under a budget dictated by the sequester, which some would call a ``meat-ax,'' that is dipping into and diving into the works of the Federal Government, such as agencies like FERC.

The likely impact of this bill, if passed, is to put FERC in a position of having to work faster, to issue decisions with fewer experienced employees, and to have a reduction in resources, thereby impacting safety and security, if I might say, because FERC, like virtually every other Federal agency, is operating under the onerous and draconian provisions of the disastrous sequestration which has caused so much misery and disruption across the Nation and to our economy. I might add, Mr. Chairman, the important aspect of this is that the ultimate results will be, FERC, if you don't do your work, if you are not thoughtful, if you are not deliberative, we deem the approval.

There is no evidence that FERC is backlogged. This has nothing to do with the Keystone pipeline, the procedures of which are in another agency altogether. So you would ask: What problem is this bill solving? None. Absolutely none. With a budget of $306 million--because of sequestration--and with a $15 million reduction in spending, 5 percent of FERC's budget is impacted. This is a bill seeking a solution to a problem that does not exist, and it is dangerous to have legislation that deems approval when the agency which has jurisdiction has not completed its investigation.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Chairman, sequestration is not only impacting the whole of the work of FERC's; but, in actuality, sequestration is undermining the economy of the United States of America.

In my State alone, we have lost 153,000 jobs. The United States has lost 1 million jobs. It is so devastating that I offer to submit a letter for the Record from the Republican cardinals, dated November 18, 2013, calling upon the Budget Committee to rid us of the disastrous sequestration.

It indicates that we have a severe problem in sequestration. This legislation to expedite the approval of needed gas pipelines is, again, an initiative looking for a solution. Since fiscal year 2009, FERC has completed action on 92 percent of their pipeline applications. Mr. Chairman, there is no problem. There is no backlog. The idea that sequestration's impact is overstated is not true. According to an analysis conducted by Regional Economic Models and Third Way, the damage to the economy caused by sequestration is substantial.

I would also like to offer a personal story that deals with the impact far-reaching. It is the fact that pediatricians today are seeing babies who are malnourished. Because of these horrible cuts and the cuts in SNAP, mothers are putting water in the formula. It may be a far reach; but because we are under these horrible caps of sequestration, it is impacting the far reaches of government. Even babies are suffering and are malnourished because of sequestration.

So, if this bill passes today, my desire is--if it even goes anywhere, if it finds a problem that it is trying to solve--that it should not be implemented at all; but if it is implemented, it certainly should not burden an agency that has proven to do its work timely 92 percent of the time. It should not burden that agency by insisting that it goes into implementation right away. It should not be in until we have moved forward and have gotten rid of sequestration.

In conclusion, there are enormous amounts of human toll impact through social safety net and health education: 600,000 women and children thrown off WIC; 807,000 fewer hospitals for Native Americans; the national security impact of the U.S.'s ``let's prepare for WMD incidents.''

So I ask my colleagues not to support the underlying bill, but to support the Jackson Lee amendment--no action until sequestration is gone.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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