Congressman Tim Griffin (AR-02): Latest Government Review Shows Obama’s Blocking of Keystone Pipeline ‘Simply Can’t Be Justified’

WASHINGTON – Congressman Tim Griffin (AR-02) issued the following statement regarding the U.S. State Department’s latest and final environmental analysis of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline:

“More than two years after President Obama first rejected the Keystone pipeline, and more than five years after the application to build it was first submitted to the State Department, another Obama Administration review shows that blocking this critical infrastructure improvement project out of political fear simply can’t be justified.  Out-of-work Americans have waited long enough; it’s time to build it.  The National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council already determined in June of last year that the oil sands crude that will be transported by the Keystone pipeline is no more corrosive than other crude oils and does not increase the risk of leaks.  Modern American pipelines are indisputably the safest way to move the energy resources we all need daily—many times safer than trucks or trains, as shown recently by derailments that resulted in the loss of human life.  President Obama and Secretary Kerry should do the right thing for our workers and our environment and let Keystone be built.”

On January 22, the Associated Press reported: “Keystone XL, which would transport heavy tar sands crude from Canada and oil from North Dakota’s Bakken shale, requires a permit from President Barack Obama because it crosses an international border. That segment has not yet been approved.”

Charles Krauthammer noted in his January 23 column headlined “Stop jerking Canada around”:

After three years of review, the State Department found no significant environmental risk to Keystone. Nonetheless, the original route was changed to assuage concerns regarding the Ogallala Aquifer [in Nebraska]. Obama withheld approval through the 2012 election. To this day he has issued no decision.

The Canadians are beside themselves. After five years of manufactured delay, they need a decision one way or the other because if denied a pipeline south, they could build a pipeline west to the Pacific. China would buy their oil in a New York minute.”

America’s pipeline system “is 530 times safer than rail and 50,000 times safer than truck transportation,”  said Brigham McCown, former acting administrator of the federal government’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, during an August 2013 lecture on pipeline safety at the Clinton School of Public Service, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

“The [National Transportation Safety Board] is concerned that major loss of life, property damage, and environmental consequences can occur when large volumes of crude oil or other flammable liquids are transported on a single train involved in an accident, as seen in the Lac Megantic, Quebec, accident, as well as several accidents the NTSB has investigated in the U.S.,” the Transportation Department agency said in a statement earlier this month.

On January 20, McClatchy reported: “More crude oil was spilled in U.S. rail incidents last year than was spilled in the nearly four decades since the federal government began collecting data on such spills, an analysis of the data shows.”

In 2011, the Obama’s Administration’s delay of the Keystone pipeline led to 60 workers being laid off at Little Rock’s own Welspun Tubular, a pipeline manufacturer.

In May 2012, Rep. Griffin visited Welspun Tubular to highlight the unused pipeline and urge President Obama to support Keystone jobs.

John Fund noted in his January 27 column headlined “Obama’s Keystone dithering”:

The pipeline would directly create 42,000 jobs over its two-year construction period in addition to tens of thousands of support jobs, but President Obama counters that it would result in only 50 “permanent” jobs for maintenance people once completed. That’s like opposing the construction of the new World Trade Center after 9/11 because the only permanent jobs created would be building-maintenance ones. Sean McGarvey, president of the Building and Construction Trades Department at the AFL-CIO respond to Keystone’s critics this way: “The interstate Highway System was a temporary job; Mount Rushmore was a temporary job. If they knew anything about the construction industry, they’d understand that we work ourselves out of jobs and we go from job to job to job.” …

The irony is that this delay on Keystone has probably harmed the environment. Domestic oil production has increased by 50 percent since Obama took office, due to the technology revolution in the petroleum industry. Increasingly, as North Dakota Republican John Hoeven says, companies are “forced to deliver their product by rail because they don’t have the pipelines.” In the last ten months, there has been an average of one large oil spill a month because of rail accidents. One in Quebec last July killed 47 people and decimated an entire town.