The House of Representatives today approved H.R. 3301, the North American Energy Infrastructure Act, by a bipartisan vote of 238 to 173. The bill, authored by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, and Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, will establish a clear and efficient approval process for pipelines and transmission lines that cross the borders of the United States with Canada or Mexico.
As demonstrated by the application for the Keystone XL pipeline, which has languished for nearly six years, the current process for approving cross-border energy projects is broken. Upton’s H.R. 3301 replaces the current Presidential Permit process created by a series of executive orders. The bill is a key component of his committee’s efforts to build the Architecture of Abundance, and will help facilitate the construction of new job-creating energy infrastructure projects needed to transport North America’s growing energy supplies to markets and consumers.
Pipelines remain the safest and most environmentally sound way to transport vital energy supplies. In the last Congress, Upton worked closely with Michigan Congressman John Dingell, the former Democratic Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, to craft and shepherd through bipartisan legislation ensures vital updates and improvements are made in U.S. pipeline safety. That legislation was signed into law by the President at the beginning of 2012.
Upton spoke on the House Floor today in support of H.R. 3301. His full remarks as prepared for delivery follow:
It’s a new era for North American energy, and it’s time for the continent’s infrastructure to catch up. That’s why I wrote H.R. 3301, the North American Energy Infrastructure Act, with my friend and colleague Gene Green of Texas. With lessons learned from the Keystone XL pipeline debacle, we’re creating a fair and transparent approval process for cross-border energy projects, putting them all on a level playing field for the benefit of North American energy security, lower energy prices, and jobs.
North America’s growing energy abundance has truly been a global game changer. Our continent has the potential to become the world’s leading energy-producing region, and the economic and geopolitical benefits are almost too good to believe.
However, outdated or unnecessary federal requirements are standing in the way of this potential, including red tape surrounding energy infrastructure projects that cross the Canadian or Mexican border. These job-creating projects are a critical part of the architecture of abundance, and they can provide a cheaper and more secure energy supply. Simply put, we cannot become an energy superpower without upgrading the energy infrastructure linking us with our neighbors.
We all know about Keystone XL, the oil pipeline project that would bring enough Canadian oil into the U.S. to displace OPEC imports while supporting up to 42,000 jobs, according to the Obama administration’s own estimates. Many of us also know that the project has been extensively studied and found to be environmentally safe. Nonetheless, for nearly 6 years the Obama administration has come up with one excuse after another for delaying its decision on the project.
Keystone XL has yet to deliver any oil, but it has already delivered a message – that our process for approving such projects is badly broken. And yet, the White House is threatening to veto the bill, claiming this bill would “circumvent longstanding and proven processes.” While H.R. 3301 does not address Keystone XL’s permit – the House has already passed legislation doing that – this bill would ensure that important projects would not be stuck in limbo once being fully vetted. It would update and modernize the process for future cross-border energy infrastructure projects, eliminating the opportunities for delay and putting in place the same standards of review for oil pipelines, electric transmission facilities, and natural gas lines.
I should also emphasize that the pipeline and transmission line projects impacted by this bill would still be subjected to the same environmental and safety reviews as would a comparable project that stayed within the U.S. And you know those safety measures have been an important priority for our committee and for the Congress, including through the tough new pipeline safety measure we enacted two years ago. But these cross-border projects would no longer face additional red tape and open-ended delays simply because they cross a national border.
This commonsense bill enjoys bipartisan support, especially from border state members who know full well the economic benefits to the U.S. of such projects. I urge all of you to join us in supporting the North American Energy Infrastructure Act. Let’s stand up together and say yes to American jobs, and yes to energy.
Upton’s bipartisan legislation has received strong support from leading energy experts, economists, and policy analysts as well as labor unions, manufacturers, job creators, and consumer groups. To learn more about H.R. 3301, click HERE.