Keystone XL Pipeline Serves National Interest: Senator

U.S. Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) | February 22, 2012

U.S Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.) made the case for the Keystone XL Pipeline in Construction Bulletin. Following are his comments.

During the first week in February, I introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project under Congress’s authority enumerated in the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Forty-four of my colleagues from across the nation joined in that effort as cosponsors of the bill. To support our legislation, we secured an opinion from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS), which confirmed Congress’s constitutional authority to approve the project.

The Hoeven-Lugar-Vitter bill authorizes TransCanada to construct and operate the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to U.S. refineries, transporting an additional 830,000 barrels of oil per day to U.S. refineries, including 100,000 barrels a day from the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana. That’s key, because providing pipeline capacity and gathering systems for that much North Dakota crude will take as many as 500 trucks a day off roads in the oil patch, which is a win-win for producers, revenues, and most importantly, public safety on our western highways.

The Keystone XL project is good for North Dakota, but it is also vital for the nation. This new $7 billion, 1,700-mile, high-tech transcontinental pipeline is a big-time private-sector job creator. It’s a shovel-ready project that would reduce our dependence on Middle East oil, help hold down the cost of fuel at the pump for consumers, and create thousands of jobs for American workers at a time when our nation badly needs them.

Three years of review

The Keystone XL pipeline project has been under review since September 2008, more than three years, and the State Department’s environmental review was completed in August of 2011. Yet despite a long and thorough environmental review, President Barack Obama last month rejected the project. He stated the 60-day provision Congress included in the payroll tax cut extension bill passed in December, legislation which I helped sponsor, didn’t give him enough time to review the project. Let’s be clear: He and his Administration have been reviewing the project for over three years.

 That’s why my colleagues and I are compelled to act again, introducing new legislation that will move the project forward with congressional approval.

Further, our new bill, like the bill we passed in December, includes all federal and state safeguards and sets no time limit on Nebraska’s ability to further review the pipeline’s route through their state, the only portion of the route that was in contention. In fact, it empowers the State of Nebraska itself to determine an alternative route approved by its state legislature and governor working in cooperation with state and federal authorities.

The fact of the matter is that if the Keystone XL pipeline isn’t built, Canadian oil will still be produced, 700,000 barrels a day of it, but instead of coming down to our refineries in the United States, instead of creating jobs for American workers, instead of reducing our dependence on Middle Eastern oil, that oil will be shipped by tanker to China. That reality was underscored recently when it was reported that Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper plans to visit with Chinese officials in Beijing this month to explore new economic relations, including energy.

Oil to American refineries

Finally, contrary to the claims of some critics, who now assert that this oil will be re-exported from the United States, the Keystone XL will deliver Canadian crude oil to American refineries where it will be refined into fuel, and our nation needs both crude oil and refined product. The reality is that if America doesn’t build the Keystone project the Canadian oil will still be produced and shipped, but instead of being refined in the United States by American workers and benefiting American consumers, it will be shipped by tanker across the Pacific to China.

I have worked toward approval of the Keystone XL, first as governor of North Dakota and now as a U.S. senator, because I believe it is just the kind of project that will grow our economy and create jobs in the right way—through private-sector investment. Also, it is vitally important infrastructure that our state needs. As a U.S. Senator, I continue to press for its approval because it will also strengthen our nation, both in terms of energy and national security. I will continue to work with my colleagues in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives to make sure this important project is completed for the American people.