Rep. Fred Upton, influential chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, tells Newsmax that the “question of the day” is why the Obama administration still hasn’t approved construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
The Michigan Republican also says the pipeline would be a major step in creating an “energy independent North America.”
The pipeline would transport oil produced by hydraulic fracturing in Alberta, Canada, to several points in the United States and create thousands of jobs. But President Obama rejected an application for the pipeline in January 2012, largely over environmental concerns in Nebraska.
Now Nebraska has approved a new route across the state, easing some of the fears of environmentalists.
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Asked if he is seeing any signs that the White House might now approve the new route, Rep. Upton — first elected in 1986 — tells Newsmax TV in an exclusive interview on Wednesday: “We haven’t yet.
“[Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton said some time ago they thought they had all the information to be able to make a decision, thought they would be able to make it certainly well before the end of last year.
“The Congress, in fact, is on record having a two-to-one majority in the House [for the pipeline]. We had 56, 57 votes in the Senate. We expect that that’s about the same level of support as you look at the new members that are here now.
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“You’ll remember that it was about a year ago that the president in a national address said he would do whatever it takes to create American jobs. This is 20,000 new American jobs. And for the Canadians, they’re going to be producing the oil from the oil sands no matter what. They’re going to build a pipeline west to Vancouver and then off to China” if the United States doesn’t approve the pipeline.
“If this pipeline is stopped coming through the plains states, there’s actually some discussion about building a pipeline all the way east through Canada to the Atlantic and then putting it on a boat and shipping it to the refineries down in New Orleans and Texas that way, adding to the cost of fuel.
“It’s safer to send it in a pipeline.
“Canada is our friend. They’re trying to help us. We shouldn’t be turning our back on that friendship.
“We know for a fact that the Chinese are all over the place up in Alberta. They would love for the United States to say no.
“We have more than a million miles of pipelines already across the United States. A lot of them already cross into Canada. There’s no reason why this shouldn’t be built here.”
In light of the bipartisan letter 146 House members have sent to Obama urging immediate approval of construction on the pipeline, Upton was asked what reason Obama can offer for refusing to approve the project.
“That’s the question of the day,” he responds. “The State Department and the different administration authorities have been studying this for literally three or four years. The reason to say no really isn’t there, other than to say we don’t want oil from oil sands from our best friend the Canadians.
“Remember, Canada’s going to do this no matter what. They’re going to be producing from about one million barrels a day today to four million barrels a day by the end of the decade. It’s going someplace. Isn’t better that it come to the United States? That we create the jobs here? That we have some certainty in terms of volume from North America, rather than relying on Venezuela or someplace else?”
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Asked about the top energy priorities for the country, Upton tells Newsmax: “We really want an energy independent North America. Looking at these vast resources now that we’ve been able to discover in the United States, it’s not worth nearly as much if we don’t have a means to get it out of the earth. We need more drilling.
“A third of our oil comes from the Gulf. About 10 to 15 percent comes from Alaska. We need the Canadian input here as well in terms of oil resources.
“Right now, we just need a green light by this administration on Keystone. They need to say yes, we’ll build a pipe here, we’ll create the 20-something thousand jobs.”
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