The Keystone XL Pipeline

Floor Speech

Date: June 20, 2014
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, it is a big burden of responsibility being the designee of the majority leader because there are issues on which this Congress can lead.

I am not talking about issues about which this Congress can fight. I am talking about issues on which this Congress can lead, things that we can do together in order to make a difference in the lives of folks back home, and for me, one of those is energy security.

I travel from one corner of the State of Georgia to another. I go through liberal districts and conservative districts. I ask: Who is it that wants to keep sending money to people who hate us and want to kill us?

There aren't many hands that go up in the room.

I ask: Who is it who wants to see economic prosperity traded away because energy prices are crushing job creation?

Absolutely no hands go up.

I am perfectly willing, as soon as we get to energy security, Mr. Speaker, as soon as we get to a place where we are energy secure in this country, I am willing to talk about what the mix of that energy is. All folks want to.

I am trying to do my part. I drive an electric car. I have been persuaded in those ways, and those Federal tax credits don't hurt, either, but we need job creation. We are energy rich in this country, and we need to be able to use that energy in order to make a difference in people's lives.

That brings us, Mr. Speaker, to the Keystone pipeline--the Keystone XL pipeline. I am sure it is the same in your district, Mr. Speaker, as it is in mine. I can't go anywhere in my district where folks don't know about the Keystone XL pipeline.

There are dozens upon dozens upon dozens of pipelines running between America and Canada--not one, not two, not three, not four--dozens upon dozens upon dozens upon dozens. But I promise you, if we took a poll out on the steps of the U.S. Capitol this morning, Americans could not name a single pipeline that runs north and south except for Keystone XL. Why? Because we have been arguing about it for years--not days, not weeks, not months--but years.

You can't see my slides, Mr. Speaker. This one is sunshine and rainbows. It is a lot like what our life is like here on Capitol Hill. Every day it is butterflies and clover. It is absolutely beautiful. And it says this--it says: ``Should America prevent Canada's oil resources from being used?'' Because the way the Keystone XL pipeline conversation happens, it is framed as if we don't build the pipeline, that means those resources don't get used.

But that is just nonsense. That is a story of sunshine and rainbows. That is a fairytale of butterflies and clover, because if we don't do it and bring those resources to America, those resources are going to go elsewhere.

Now, I know what you are thinking, Mr. Speaker. You are thinking, for Pete's sakes, Woodall, you have only been in this House for 3 years, you are not an energy expert. How do you know?

Well, I don't have to make this stuff up, Mr. Speaker. Take your pick. Who is the media outlet that you believe? Is it Bloomberg? Because Bloomberg says: ``Obama's Keystone Denial Prompts Canada to Look to China for Sales.'' It is not a choice of, should Canada develop those resources or not? It is a choice of when Canada develops those resources, should it be used to benefit America and the American economy, or should it be shipped overseas?

Don't trust Bloomberg, Mr. Speaker? That is okay. We have got The Week here: ``Did Obama Push Canada Into China's Arms By Rejecting the Keystone Pipeline?''

Well, maybe you think these are all American sources and so they are all biased, Mr. Speaker. That is okay. I have got the BBC here. The BBC says: ``Oil Spurs Canada's PM, Stephen Harper, to Visit China.'' National Journal: ``Ambassador Rejection of Keystone Would Definitely Strain U.S.-Canada Relations.'' The Ledger says: ``Canada: Harper Looks to Asian Countries to Sell Natural Resources Bounty.''

The question that we have about the Keystone pipeline, Mr. Speaker, is not should Canada's resources be developed; the question is when Canada's resources are developed, who should benefit? Should we benefit here in America, or will those benefits flow overseas?

Well, let's find out what the American media has to say about that. Now, I am just starting with the American media because you know as well as I do that the American media is not the end all be all of common sense in this country, but occasionally they hit it right on the mark. The Washington Post, no bastion of conservatism--it is not a shill for the Republican Party; it is not out to promote some sort of a conservative agenda--The Washington Post says:

Keystone XL's continued delay is absurd.

I am not cherry picking here. This was just April of this year. They have been saying it for years. They are still saying it now:

Keystone XL's continued delay is absurd.

What about President Obama's hometown newspaper? The Chicago Tribune is not silent on this. The Chicago Tribune, also in April of this year--and why April of this year? Because that is the most recent opportunity the President had to make a difference in the lives of Americans, and he continued denial and delay. The Chicago Tribune says:

The delay is bad for Americans who would like to have a job.

``Bad for Americans who would like to have a job.'' How many times have we come to this Chamber, packed every seat in this Chamber to talk about the importance of the economy and job creation? It is not once. It is not twice. It is daily, Mr. Speaker, that folks on both sides of the aisle say it is jobs, jobs, jobs. The President's hometown paper says his continued delay is bad for Americans who would like to have jobs.

When I think about folks who really could use some of those jobs, I think about Detroit, Mr. Speaker. Detroit has had a hard time. The people of Detroit are incredibly resilient. They are not quitters. They are not going to give up, but they have had a tough time. The Detroit News says:

Once again, politics trump Keystone XL. With environmental risks put aside, political motives delay shovel-ready project that could create thousands of jobs.

Those are not my words. Those are the words of the Detroit News. ``Politics trump ..... With environmental risks put aside''--solved, mitigated, dismissed--``political motives delay shovel-ready project that could create thousands of jobs.'' Mr. Speaker, delay, denial, its motivation may be political, but its impact is more personal.

Let me go on, Mr. Speaker, to what the President's own team has to say. And by ``own team,'' I mean the folks across the aisle in the United States Senate--not just folks on the other side of the Capitol, but folks on the other side of the political party, because energy security is not a partisan issue. It shouldn't be. Energy security and job creation, not a partisan issue. Bringing Canada's natural resources to the place with the toughest environmental controls on the planet, not a political issue, just good common sense.

I go to my Senate colleagues and my Senate Democratic colleagues now, Mr. Speaker. The Senator from North Dakota:

It is absolutely ridiculous that this well over 5-year-long process is continuing for an undetermined amount of time.

Again, I didn't have to dig back into the history books for these quotes, Mr. Speaker. This comes from April of this year, the last time the President had an opportunity to move America forward with energy security, move America forward with job creation, and provide certainty to our friends to the north, Canada, as they try to utilize their natural resources. The Democratic Senator from North Dakota said ``absolutely ridiculous.''

Senator Mary Landrieu, the Senator from Louisiana, also a Democrat:

This decision is unnecessary and unacceptable.

Mr. Speaker, I don't mean to trot out all of the Senators and all the Democrats, except that I happen to be a House Member and I happen to be a Republican. And so I could understand if someone were to point the finger of blame and say: The only reason you share these positions, Congressman Woodall, is because you are a conservative Republican, and this is not good for America; this is just conservative Republican mantra.

We all know that is nonsense. It is not conservative. It is not liberal. It is not Democrat. It is not Republican. It is American. It is economic. It is about security.

I will go one more, Mr. Speaker. Senator Mark Begich from Alaska:

I am, frankly, appalled at the continued foot-dragging by this administration on the Keystone project.

North Dakota, which would be a competitor--North Dakota has lots of economic resources there, lots of choices they can make, ``absolutely ridiculous.'' Democrat from Louisiana, ``unnecessary and unacceptable.'' Democrat from Alaska, ``appalled at the continued foot-dragging.''

So why can't we move forward? I don't know what the agenda is at the White House that has caused the 5-year delay that the North Dakota Senator calls ridiculous. I don't know what it is at the White House that has caused the delay that folks call appalling and unacceptable, but we have an opportunity to come together and do this.

We focus so often in this town on issues that divide us. This is an issue that unites us, and it unites us not just across party lines, not just across Chambers back and forth, but also across the divide of politics.

I have labor unions here on the board, Mr. Speaker, because sometimes folks say, and I hear it back home from time to time, they say: Rob, it is probably some of those special interest groups. It is those special interest groups that are preventing the President from doing what he wants to do. You know, those special interest groups have so much power in Washington, D.C. They are always changing things.

Terry O'Sullivan, union president, said, ``This is once again politics at its worst,'' condemning the decision not to move forward on the Keystone XL pipeline. Again, not from 5 years ago, not 4 years ago, not 3 years ago, just this year, Mr. Speaker, folks continue to be frustrated.

Sean McGarvey, union president:

Firstly, it is unbelievable to me why this project is allowed to linger while our Nation's economy struggles to get back on track.

Mr. Speaker, there is no choice that says prohibit Canada from developing their resources. There is no choice that prevents Canada from developing their resources. The question is, once developed, who benefits? If you don't believe that, Mr. Speaker, I encourage you to go look at the Energy Information Agency's Web site, They track all of the energy use in this country, energy production and energy costs, and what you see is as the war on coal has continued at the White House, is that coal consumption in America is on a steady downward slope. You declare war on coal, you use your phone and your pen to prohibit folks from using coal, making it economically unsustainable to use coal, you can absolutely collapse coal consumption in America. We are the Saudi Arabia of coal. We have more coal than any other nation on the planet. The White House absolutely can commit itself to unilaterally disarming America when it comes to energy security, declaring a war on coal.

But if you go to the EIA Web site, the Obama administration Web site, Energy Information Agency, what you will see is, while those regulations have absolutely collapsed U.S. consumption of coal, U.S. exports of coal are going right through the roof. Mr. Speaker, you don't have to look far to find out that India and China are building new coal-fired power plants at the rate of four per week--four per week.

Now, I want you to find the absolute greenest person in your district, Mr. Speaker. I want you to find that person who bleeds green, biggest environmentalist you can find, Mr. Speaker, and I want you to ask him, when it comes to burning coal, when it comes to burning oil, when it comes to using America's fossil fuels, the world's fossil fuels, who is going to burn it cleaner, America, China, or India? Because if the discussion we are having, Mr. Speaker, is how do we protect the planet that we all share, how do we nurture the environment for which we are concerned, the answer is to make sure those resources are utilized here.

If you want to export something, export clean-burning natural gas. It will be tougher for folks to screw that up around the globe. The environment is a global environment, and if you care about doing things in the safest possible way, shipping coal to China or India for consumption is not the right answer.

Billions of dollars are invested in pollution controls on power plants across this country, Mr. Speaker. We will burn it cleaner and better than anyone else on the planet, and yet the regulatory environment is driving that consumption overseas. It is bad for the environment, not good for the environment.

The Keystone XL pipeline, Mr. Speaker, ``politics at its worst,'' say the labor unions. ``Unbelievable,'' say the labor unions. ``Absolutely ridiculous,'' says a Democratic Senator. ``Unacceptable,'' says a Democratic Senator. ``Appalled,'' says a Democratic Senator, and the list goes on and on.

Mr. Speaker, I don't know what you find in your district. My district wants us to stop figuring out who to blame for it and start figuring out how to fix it. My district wants us to focus on those things that we can do together that will make a difference in people's lives back home. My constituents believe it really is jobs, jobs, jobs, not as a political tag line but as a mission statement for how to make America's economy great once again.

The Keystone XL pipeline is supported by the left and by the right, by the House and by the Senate, by the media and by the interest groups. The only place it cannot find support is in the west wing of the United States White House.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that the President will listen to the American people; I believe that the President does want to make this country strong; and I believe, if constituents in each one of our districts across this country apply their collective pressure to the White House, that it will respond. I have to believe that because that is the only way America works. It is the only way America works.

Commentator after commentator after commentator says the Keystone XL delay is politics at its worse. Commentator after commentator after commentator says delay is costing American families much-needed jobs.

We can do better for the American people, Mr. Speaker. We must do better for the American people. Working together, I think we can convince the White House of that message, but that process begins right here.

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