Energy & Commerce: New Year, Old Excuses

White House Continues to Hide Behind Flawed Process As Keystone Delays Drag On

The Obama administration this week wasted little time in voicing its opposition to jobs and secure energy. Less than 90 minutes into the start of the new Congress, the White House Tuesday signaled a veto threat on H.R. 3, the Keystone XL Pipeline Act, despite overwhelming bipartisan support for the measure in the House and Senate. While new members were being sworn in with their families, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was squashing any hopes of presidential cooperation. "If this bill passes this Congress the president wouldn't sign it either,” he told reporters at a press conference. Adding, “The president has been pretty clear that he does not think circumventing a well-established process for evaluating these projects is the right thing for Congress.” On Wednesday, the White House followed up with a formal veto threat, arguing the bill would “cut short consideration of important issues relevant to the national interest.”

The Obama administration this week wasted little time in voicing its opposition to jobs and secure energy. Less than 90 minutes into the start of the new Congress, the White House Tuesday signaled a veto threat on H.R. 3, the Keystone XL Pipeline Act, despite overwhelming bipartisan support for the measure in the House and Senate. While new members were being sworn in with their families, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was squashing any hopes of presidential cooperation. "If this bill passes this Congress the president wouldn't sign it either,” he told reporters at a press conference. Adding, “The president has been pretty clear that he does not think circumventing a well-established process for evaluating these projects is the right thing for Congress.” On Wednesday, the White House followed up with a formal veto threat, arguing the bill would “cut short consideration of important issues relevant to the national interest.” 

This isn’t the first time the administration has attempted to hide behind process as an excuse for delaying a decision on this important jobs project. The White House issued its first veto threat against congressional action on Keystone XL in the summer of 2011, claiming legislation was unnecessary because their process was working and would come to a conclusion by the end of the year. But come the next January, the process still hadn’t played out, and then White House Press Secretary Jay Carney urged Congress to have patience, stating, “[T]hese reviews are conducted by the State Department, and when the State Department concludes that process, we make, we’ll move forward … There will be a decision, but I'm not going to get ahead of that process.”

The administration has kept the Keystone XL pipeline tied up in review now for over six years, and no one is buying the process excuse. To suggest Congress is cutting the review short is a hard sell when you consider the facts. Keystone is now the most studied pipeline in the nation’s history, with other cross-border pipelines previously approved within 18 to 24 months. Keystone XL could have been approved three times over during the time its application has been tied up in red tape. The State Department has now issued five separate environmental reviews on the project, none of which provide justification to continue delaying a decision. The final review was issued in January 2014, confirming the project would be safe and support over 42,000 U.S. jobs. The completion of this review should have signaled a swift approval from the president, but nearly a year later, the American people are still kept waiting.

It’s a new year, but the White House is still using the same old rhetoric to defend its unpopular policies. The only phenomenon that’s “well-established” is this administration’s ability to delay a decision on Keystone. It’s clear that this process has been abused and is now badly broken, which is why it is necessary for Congress to step in and end the delays so Americans can finally get to work.

H.R. 3 is a commonsense solution to free Keystone XL from the president’s endless roadblocks. But beyond Keystone, we are going to need to build many more pipelines and cross-border projects as part of the Architecture of Abundance to unleash the benefits of North America’s energy potential. It shouldn’t take six years to say yes to energy infrastructure projects, which is why the Energy and Commerce Committee will continue its work in this new Congress to ensure we have the policies in place that allow us to say yes to jobs, and #Yes2Energy.  

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