Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), ranking member on the Senate Energy Committee, today introduced the Energy Security Act as an amendment to the Unemployment Insurance Extension bill.
The senators say that between the Keystone XL pipeline project and LNG exports, the measure could create nearly 100,000 jobs, boost the U.S. economy and aid our allies in Ukraine, NATO and Japan. The legislation is designed to approve the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline project and expedite applications to export liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Cosponsors of the amendment include Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and David Vitter (R-La.).
"As we consider an extension of Unemployment Insurance benefits, we should also be considering measures that will actually address the problem by creating jobs for the long-term unemployed," Hoeven said. "Our energy legislation could help create thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity. At the same time, expanding America's energy supply with projects like the Keystone XL pipeline, combined with approval for increased LNG exports, will send a powerful signal to our friends and foes alike that America is both energy secure and that we stand firmly beside our allies in Ukraine and NATO."
"Americans have repeatedly made it clear that they want Washington to focus on growing our economy and making it easier for the private sector to create jobs," said Barrasso. "Our amendment will help shorten unemployment lines by automatically moving forward with the job-rich Keystone XL pipeline and speeding up LNG exports. If Democrats are serious about helping unemployed Americans, they'll hold a vote on our amendment today."
"The energy boom in America is dramatically changing our energy future. It's creating jobs and economic opportunities here at home. And it's also providing an opportunity for us to engage the world from a position of renewed strength, and to pursue our national security and foreign policy objectives through economic means," Murkowski said. "Allowing greater energy exports will send a powerful message that America has the resources and the resolve to be the preeminent power in the world. This is an enormous opportunity where long-term thinking, not short-term political calculus, needs to guide our approach."
Keystone XL Approval
The Keystone XL (KXL) provision approves the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline project under Congress's authority enumerated in the foreign Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which gives Congress the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations. The non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) has confirmed for Hoeven Congress's constitutional authority to approve the project.
Specifically, the Hoeven-Barrasso-Murkowski legislation authorizes TransCanada to construct and operate the remaining northern leg of the pipeline in the U.S. and makes clear that the environmental impact studies already completed satisfy the law. It ensures that federal agencies cannot withdraw permits TransCanada already completed and received from the government and that once Congress approves the pipeline, it is not endlessly held up in litigation.
During construction, the project would create approximately 42,100 jobs and generate approximately $2 billion in earnings throughout the United States. Construction of the proposed project would contribute approximately $3.4 billion to U.S. GDP, according to the State Department. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average hourly salary of a pipeline worker is $40.09 an hour. KXL will also create manufacturing jobs across the country.
Expediting LNG Export Applications
The Hoeven-Barrasso-Murkowski amendment requires the Department of Energy to automatically approve applications to export LNG to Ukraine, Japan and NATO member countries. Current law allows exports only to countries with which the U.S. has a free trade agreement (FTA). The U.S. currently has no FTA with Europe or Ukraine. To date, the administration has approved just seven applications for LNG export facilities, and spent an average of 697 days processing each of them. Twenty-four other projects are awaiting a decision.
NERA Economic Consulting's updated study found that "depending on the speed at which [LNG] export capacity is built, the unemployment rolls could be reduced by as many as 45,000 workers on average over the period from 2013 to 2018."