Salmon Op-Ed in Investor's Business Daily: Why Is White House Stalling Energy Measures?

Mar 25, 2013
In The News

It occurred to me recently that President Obama and House Democrats managed to force ObamaCare onto the American people in just over 400 days.

Yet, it's been over 1,600 days since the application for the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada was submitted to the State Department — and the administration continues to stall on approving or disapproving the project.

In the case of ObamaCare, the administration acted quickly to ensure Congress passed legislation that then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi admitted needed passage before "we can find out what is in it."

By contrast, the administration persists in delaying approval of projects and agreements with our North American neighbors, Canada and Mexico. Not only do we actually know what is in these projects, but they would result in tangible and clear benefits to the U.S. economy and our national security interests.

Because of this, as chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I recently convened a hearing about how we can enhance our existing partnerships with both Canada and Mexico in pursuit of U.S. energy security, increased investment opportunities and high-paying jobs for the American people.

My goal was to give momentum to the administration to move forward with projects that have the overwhelming support of the American people, and promise to put the U.S. squarely on a path to greater energy security, while bolstering job creation.

Approval of the Keystone XL pipeline would not only inject over $7 billion of private investment into our economy, but would create approximately 20,000 jobs for Americans.

The pipeline also represents an important piece in ensuring our national security interests. Reducing our dependence on energy from unstable corners of the globe and from regimes hostile to U.S. interests has long been a crucial element in protecting our broader national security interests.

To put the delay into perspective, previous cross-border oil pipelines have been approved in 420 days to 810 days; the Keystone XL Pipeline has been waiting for over 1,638 days with still no definitive timeline from the administration for approval.

Canada and the U.S. enjoy a very close bilateral relationship, with robust commercial ties.

Our two countries enjoy the world's largest bilateral trade relationship translating into over $1 billion crossing our shared northern border each day.

Canada is already the U.S.' largest supplier of energy, and approval of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to refineries in the Midwest and Gulf Coast would translate into about 1 million additional barrels of oil a day, and tens of thousands of high-quality U.S. jobs.

The Obama administration's demonstrated pattern of stalling measures that will bolster private investment opportunities while enhancing U.S. energy security efforts is evident again in the delay to move forward with the Transboundary Hydrocarbons Agreement (TBHA) signed with Mexico in February 2012.

This agreement involves the development of oil and gas reservoirs that cross the international maritime boundary between the two countries in the Gulf of Mexico.

Since the Mexican Senate ratified the agreement on April 12, 2012, newly elected Mexican President Enrique Peoa Nieto has made clear his intention to bring about serious reforms of the Mexican national oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), ultimately opening Mexico's heretofore closed oil regime to private investment.

Implementation of this agreement would represent an important first step toward energy reform in Mexico.

The prospect of opening Pemex to foreign investment will not only potentially benefit U.S. companies, but will go a long way in improving the efficiency of Pemex, while stabilizing, indeed increasing, Mexico's currently stalled oil production.

This will lead to a more prosperous Mexico, and that is unquestionably in the national interests of the U.S.

Despite these clear benefits, the Obama administration has yet to formally send the U.S.-Mexico TBHA to Congress for passage.

Mexico did its part by ratifying the agreement nearly a year ago, thus our delay is not only hindering U.S. research and investment in the transboundary area, but, even more damaging, is sending the exact wrong political message to the new Peòa Nieto administration and the Mexican people.

While I was encouraged by the March 1, 2013 State Department draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on the Keystone XL pipeline that concluded there would be no significant environmental impact, 1,600-plus days represent an unacceptable and baffling stall tactic on the part of the administration.

The same can be said about the delay in sending the TBHA to an eager Congress for passage.

On matters of national security, energy security and jobs, the American people expect their leaders to act with the proper sense of urgency.

Up to now, the Obama administration has been dragging its feet — and that needs to stop.

Salmon, a Republican from Arizona, chairs the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and recently convened a hearing on Keystone XL.

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