Guest editorial: Keystone is sign of broken regulatory process |

Guest editorial: Keystone is sign of broken regulatory process

U.S. Senator Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah)

Senator Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate, spoke on the Senate floor Tuesday morning about the Keystone XL Pipeline.

To me, the decision to approve this pipeline is an obvious one for a host of reasons:

  • It will support more than 42,000 good-paying jobs during its construction;
  • It will contribute more than $3.4 billion dollars to our gross domestic product;
  • It will aid in the goal of North American energy independence;
  • And as the State Department’s Environmental Impact Statement found, building the Keystone XL pipeline will actually be better for the environment than not building it. The energy resources that the Canadians produce will reach the market regardless of whether this pipeline is built. And Keystone XL is by far the safest, cleanest, and most efficient means of doing so.

    As a common-sense, bipartisan jobs and infrastructure measure, this bill is exactly the sort of legislation that the Senate should be considering as its first order of business in this Congress. But it should not have to be.

    The story here is about more than a single pipeline — no matter how many jobs its construction will create; no matter how important it is for our energy independence; and no matter how environmentally sound it is.

    This is a story about a regulatory process that is broken;

    This is a story about special interests manipulating the bureaucracy to muck up a process that should be simple and uncontroversial;

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    And this is a story about just one of many examples of tragically missed opportunities to create good-paying jobs and provide relief for household budgets across the country.

    The application for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline was first filed in September of 2008, more than six years ago. United States Senators have served more than a full term in that time. Children born after the application was filed are now in the first grade.

    The notion that any infrastructure project could be held up for such a long period is disturbing. But the delay of Keystone XL is even worse: Given the strong and well-documented economic and environmental case for the pipeline, Keystone is the sort of project that should have been quickly and easily approved for construction.

    But for some committed environmentalists inside and outside the Obama administration, common sense and balanced consideration of the facts no longer matter. Instead, to them, this simple pipeline has become a political symbol, regardless of what the science tells us. And they have directed their ample energies at throwing up every procedural roadblock imaginable to the approval of the pipeline. As a result, this project has endured delay after delay after delay.

    Over the past few years, the American people have rightly developed the impression that Washington is broken. There can be no better example of the consequence of this dysfunction than the Keystone XL pipeline sitting in bureaucratic purgatory.

    When a project such as this — which is good for jobs and good for families’ budgets –gets bogged down in the Obama administration’s red tape, it is absolutely the responsibility of Congress to act.

    Unfortunately, for years the Senate became a place where good ideas like approving Keystone XL came to die, where control of the calendar and the amendment process prevented the consideration of so many good, bipartisan ideas.

    Not only was the administrative process broken, but the Senate was also paralyzed and unable to step in and fix it.

    taking up this important bill as our first matter of consideration in the new Congress, we are taking steps to restore the Senate to the great legislative body that it is meant to be, the place where Senators work across the aisle to meet the needs of the American people.

    By coming together to propose a common-sense solution to get back on track this project that has become such a symbol of what’s wrong with Washington, my friends from North Dakota and West Virginia are demonstrating exactly the sort of thoughtful, inclusive, and bipartisan leadership that the American people are demanding.

    It is my sincere hope that we move quickly and deliberately to approve this measure, and that we soon begin considering serious regulatory reform to prevent the sorts of abuses that we have seen bedevil the Keystone XL project.

    The American people deserve an efficient and effective regulatory process that works for them, and it is time for the Senate to deliver.