January 27, 2015

Keystone Bill is the Wrong Energy Priority

I have long called for a "do it all, do it right" energy strategy that invests not only in traditional energy sources but allows us to maximize our potential when it comes to renewable sources, like solar and wind. That's one reason I'm so disappointed that for the third week, the Senate has been debating a bill that would mandate approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Keystone doubles down on foreign oil imports rather than moving our nation forward, and it fails to create the jobs of the future or enable us to become energy independent. Congress has no business requiring action on a pipeline for a private, foreign corporation.

I supported debating this bill because the Majority Leader promised to allow an open amendment process. I have long believed that senators on both sides of the aisle have abused the filibuster, and I have been outspoken about the need for reform. At the beginning of a new session of Congress, I thought it was important to take the Majority Leader at his word - even though I opposed the bill itself.

But I also believe that if we are going to debate energy, we should be considering ways we can move our country's energy policy forward. I have introduced an amendment to create hundreds of thousands of jobs by setting a national Renewable Electricity Standard, requiring utilities to generate 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025. New Mexico and over half the states have wildly successful policies just like it. Many of my fellow senators have introduced good amendments as well. However, before we could even consider those amendments, the Leader began pushing to shut down debate. I was proud that last night, a majority of senators joined with me and -- twice -- refused to allow that to happen. Now, I will be pushing over the coming days for the Senate leaders to give my amendment -- and the many other deserving proposals and changes to this controversial Keystone bill -- the thoughtful consideration the American people demand from the Senate.

Please see the remarks I made for the Congressional Record below:

Mr. President, today we are voting to end debate on the Keystone Pipeline bill.

I want to be clear right from the start. I do not support this bill. I will vote against cloture-and against final passage- of the Keystone Pipeline bill. And I'm disappointed about the way it is being jammed through to a vote.

I supported the Motion to Proceed to this bill for one reason-and only one reason-because we were assured there would be an open amendment process.

We started that process last week. We have worked back and forth between Republican and Democrat amendments. Many of those amendments are important. And I believe we should continue-until every senator who wants to amend this bill has had a chance to make his or her case.

I have an amendment-for a Renewable Electricity Standard-which would create hundreds of thousands of 21st century American jobs in my state and across the country. We owe it to all Americans to consider this and other amendments that would improve the bill.

The bill as it stands is not acceptable on many levels.

First, I'm concerned that the new leadership chose to begin with a bill mandating a single pipeline for a foreign private company.

This is a questionable use of the Senate's time-and an unprecedented piece of legislation. Congress has never gotten involved in mandating a pipeline of this nature.

But that is where we are.

And now we are voting to cut off debate. The Majority Leader moved last week-late in the night-to set aside the Democrat amendments and bring an end to debate.

So we have a bill with a questionable beginning-and a regrettable ending. The result is a missed opportunity-to seriously address the energy needs of our country.

I said at the beginning of this debate that we are faced with a choice. A profound choice. We can deny that our climate is warming. We can fall behind our economic competitors. We can ignore the danger to our planet-and to our security. That's one choice.

Or we can move forward-with a clean energy economy. With an energy policy that makes sense-that creates jobs...that protects the environment...and that will keep our nation strong.

We had a good debate on climate change during this bill-about whether or not humans significantly contribute to it. Many senators made it clear where they stand. Many agree that YES-humans are significantly contributing to climate change.

But while that's good for the record, it doesn't do much for the reality. Because we have fallen short of taking any real action to address this great challenge. In fact, we are now compounding the problem-by trying to pass this bill.

The bill lacks a comprehensive energy policy - it lacks even trying to set one. This is not a "do it all" energy bill. This isn't even a "drill, baby, drill" bill. This is a "drill, Canada" bill.

I believe we should continue working on the bill to address serious climate solutions-like a Renewable Electricity Standard. The Keystone Pipeline is an investment in doing things the old way-importing foreign oil. Instead of doubling down on foreign oil, we should be talking about how we can move America forward-by investing in the homegrown energy of the future.

A national Renewable Electricity Standard would combat global warming-while creating hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country. It will help maximize our energy potential-while strengthening our economy and our energy security.

Let's vote on that-and let's move forward to meet the real energy needs of American families.