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Congresswoman Barbara Comstock

Representing the 10th District of Virginia

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Op-Ed: No Time To Delay

January 31, 2015
Press Release
The following op-ed appeared in The Winchester Star on 1/31/15

It’s rare in politics these days that you have a coalition that includes Republicans, Democrats, major unions, the Chamber of Commerce, the Tea Party, and The Washington Post!

But support of the Keystone XL Pipeline brings together all of these different voices. That is why when I voted to pass the Keystone XL Pipeline in January with such a strong bipartisan majority in the House, I was optimistic we had turned a corner on the energy and jobs debate. That optimism only grew stronger this week when the U.S. Senate passed the Keystone XL Pipeline with nine Democratic senators voting for it. This bipartisan legislation is about good-paying jobs, energy security, and national security.

According to the State Department’s most recent review, it is estimated that Keystone XL construction would create more than 40,000 jobs and, while some oddly dismiss these jobs as temporary — all construction jobs are temporary — they lead to expanded economic development.

The Keystone XL Pipeline offers an opportunity to increase U.S. energy security and should be part of an “all-the-above” energy policy. In December, Jack Gerard, the president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute said:

“Six years of review and five positive environmental assessments from the State Department are enough … Now is not the time to sit back and assume our energy resurgence will coast along on autopilot. This is the time to invest in the infrastructure and policies we need to achieve the full benefits of energy advances and secure a stable supply of energy for decades to come.”

Furthermore, the State Department estimates the pipeline will transport 830,000 barrels of oil per day, which equates to nearly half of U.S. imports from the Middle East. With perpetual turmoil in that part of the world, this project will allow the United States to source more energy products from a friendly neighbor instead of those hostile to many of our global interests. The United States should be leading the next energy revolution through common-sense energy policies, not letting others dictate what we do.

Pipelines are also the safest and least costly way to transport extraordinary quantities of energy products. If Keystone is not constructed, those products will still be transported, but by riskier means. The Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) determined that Keystone “would have a degree of safety greater than any typically constructed domestic oil pipeline system under current regulations, and a degree of safety along the entire length of the pipeline system that would be similar to that required in high consequences.”

The bottom line is that, time and time again, too many excuses have been used for stopping this sound energy and economic project. In January, the Nebraska Supreme Court upheld a Nebraska law that allows the governor to approve the long-delayed oil pipeline’s route inside the state. President Obama had cited this case as one of his reasons for a veto threat — so that excuse is now moot.

The President of the LIUNA Union described construction of the Keystone Pipeline by saying:

“To the tens of thousands of men and women in the construction industry, this isn’t just a pipeline, it’s their mortgages, college tuitions, car payments, and food on the table. And for our country, this isn’t just a pipeline, it’s a lifeline to family security, energy security, and national security.”

I agree. President Obama should work with this unique and broad-based coalition to move the Keystone XL Pipeline forward and sign the legislation when it comes to his desk.

Barbara Comstock represents Virginia’s 10th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.