FLOOR SPEECH: Response to Keystone XL Veto

I have come to speak about our upcoming vote to override President Obama’s unfortunate, shortsighted veto of the first piece of bipartisan energy legislation we sent him this year.

About a month ago, S. 1 – the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act – passed our chamber on a bipartisan basis.  Nine Democrats joined with 53 Republicans here in the Senate to pass it.  It was a similar story in the House, where 29 Democrats joined 241 Republicans to overwhelmingly pass this bill.

We most often refer to this as a bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.  But as a result of the 41 amendments that we voted on, during an open process that spanned three weeks here on the Floor, our bill grew to be much more than that. 

The President also vetoed a time-sensitive provision that would provide regulatory relief to our water heater manufacturers.  He vetoed multiple provisions to increase the efficiency of our commercial buildings.  He vetoed a provision to improve the energy retrofitting assistance available for schools.  He vetoed a responsible path forward on the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, and our statement asserting that climate change is real.

The President was wrong to veto those provisions – and he was just as wrong to veto the Keystone XL pipeline.It has now been more than 2,350 days since the company seeking to build Keystone XL first sought its cross-border permit application.

Throughout his entire time in office, President Obama has ignored the thousands of jobs this project would support, the more than $2 billion in wages it would generate, and the energy security it would provide to us.  He has ignored the safest and cleanest way to transport American and Canadian oil to the Gulf Coast – as determined by his own State Department. 

He’s refused to make a decision on this project for more than six years.  He’s made a mockery of the Executive Order meant to expedite these decisions.  And he’s sending a tremendously negative signal to those thinking about investing in our country – telling them to take their capital, their jobs, their wages, their revenues, and their economic growth somewhere else.

There are many reasons to approve this pipeline project, in addition to those I’ve listed here.  With no shortage of irony, some of those reasons have come from the Obama Administration itself in recent weeks.

Last month, the White House released its updated National Security Strategy.  It says, and I quote:“The challenges faced by Ukrainian and European dependence on Russian energy supplies puts a spot­light on the need for an expanded view of energy security that recognizes the collective needs of the United States, our allies, and trading partners as well as the importance of competitive energy markets. Therefore, we must promote diversification of energy fuels, sources, and routes, as well as encourage indigenous sources of energy supply. Greater energy security and independence within the Americas is central to these efforts.”

The president’s veto of the Keystone XL pipeline contradicts his own national security policy.The Council of Economic Advisers also released its Economic Report to the President a couple weeks back.  The report states that “improving energy security” is one of three “elements” of the president’s energy strategy.  The report defined “macroeconomic energy security” as, I quote:

“The extent to which a country’s economy is exposed to energy supply risks—specifically, international energy supply disruptions that lead to product unavailability, price shocks, or both.”

The president’s veto contradicts what he claims is his energy policy.In June 2013, the President released his Climate Action Plan.  It stated:

“It is imperative for the United States to couple action at home with leadership internationally. America must help forge a truly global solution to this global challenge by galvanizing international action to significantly reduce emissions (particularly among the major emitting countries), prepare for climate impacts, and drive progress through the international negotiations.”

The president’s veto even contradicts his own climate policy.  The State Department found that the Keystone XL pipeline was the best alternative from a climate and environmental perspective – safest and cleanest, with the lowest transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions of any method to move this oil.   

At more than 2,350 days and counting, and with a President incapable of making a final decision, it is time for Congress to end this debate. Keystone XL is an opportunity to boost our economy, to help our allies, to increase our energy security, and to show the world we are ready to lead on issues of energy.  The president’s veto is a failure of leadership – and I urge the members of the Senate to come together to override it.