As the country continues to struggle with unemployment, House Republicans and some Democratic supporters say the Keystone XL oil pipeline might be at least one solution. Republican congressman Pete Olson, a member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce joined Roland Martin on Washington Watch to discuss this the Keystone Pipeline and more.
MR. MARTIN: As the country continues to struggle with unemployment, House Republicans and some Democratic supporters say the Keystone XL oil pipeline might be at least one solution. Joining us from my hometown of Houston to talk about that and more is Republican Texas congressman Pete Olson, a member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Congressman Olson, welcome to “Washington Watch.”
You and other Repub- —
REP. PETE OLSON: Greetings from the energy capital of the world.
MR. MARTIN: — House Republicans see the Keystone pipeline as the solution – or, one of the solutions, to the nation’s unemployment problem. How is that the case?
REP. OLSON: Well, Roland, quite simply, that pipeline, if built as planned, will create 20,000 new American jobs. 800,000 barrels of oi- — oil a day will be flowing from Canada, a trusted ally, to Southeast Texas, to Gulf ports. That’s energy s- — energy security. That’s national security. Again, 20,000 jobs – shovel-ready jobs – once the pipeline gets approved.
MR. MARTIN: Now, you said “shovel-ready” jobs – 20,000 – but those are temporary jobs that will be gone in two years. Yet, Republi- — House Republicans were adamantly against the President’s construction plan that could’ve been immediate jobs in terms of rebuilding schools and bridges. And so please explain how rebuilding the country in terms of our infrastructure was bad – was a bad idea, but this is a good idea.
REP. OLSON: We’ve been struggling in Washington, D.C., with the transportation bill between the Senate and the House right now, and that’s how we should fund our highways; but we – our biggest problem right now – one of the biggest challenge[s] our country face[s] in the future is our dependence upon Middle Eastern sources of energy. And the Keystone XL pipeline – again, with 800,000 barrels a day flowing through right here to Southeast Texas – will make a dramatic impact. We will basically lose Venezuela, Saudi Arabia out of our food chain – countries that don’t necessarily like us. Again, it’s important for America. Poll after poll after poll shows the American people want American energy. The Keystone XL pipeline, while it’s coming from Canada, is North American energy from a trusted ally; and that’s why we’re pushing to get the Keystone pipeline approved as planned, from Canada right here to Southeast Texas.
MR. MARTIN: So, how we are sh- — how are we assured, how are Americans assured that those barrels will be for Americans, as opposed to being exported to other countries?
REP. OLSON: Well, sir, the oil industry is a global industry right now, and that oil coming down to Southeast Texas – well, you know, I don’t know where that’s going to go, but the bottom line is that’s oil coming from Canada, a trusted ally – not coming from Venezuela, not coming from Saud[i] Arabia, the Middle East – countries that lo- — don’t like us – because that’ll be a sure supply of oil, that won’t be shut down like we seen in the 1970s. The markets will react favorably. Prices will go down – gasoline prices. That’s why we’re pushing this so hard. The gasoline prices have been their highest under this present administration, doubled since Pres. Obama’s been in office. That hits every family, every small business in their pocketbooks. By pushing the Keystone XL pipeline, we’re trying to alleviate those cost increases and do what’s best for the American people.
MR. MARTIN: But –
REP. OLSON: That’s North American energy.
MR. MARTIN: — but Congressman, you just said, “I don’t know where it’s going.” And so if you’re making the argument that we can produce 800[,000] barrels of oil that can reduce our dependence upon Middle Eastern oil, if those 800 barrels – 800,000 barrels of oil are not going to then be used by Americans, then we’re – we’re still going to be dependent upon Midder- — Middle Eastern oil. Correct?
REP. OLSON: The price will go down dramatically because of that oil pipeline flowing here – here to Southeast Texas. The bottom line is that provides certainty in the market. That’s what doesn’t exist right now. We’re basically dependent upon Middle Eastern sources of energy. Right now, we’ve got a problem with – in Iran, that they’re threatening to shut down the Strait of Hormuz. That ends with approval of the Keyst- — -stone pipeline, when they get it built. That’s why I’m pushing so hard. That’s my number one goal on the Energy and Commerce Committee for the rest of this Congress.
MR. MARTIN: Now, you talked about the importance of these jobs and the oil. What about the environment? Environmentalists have been saying that this could cause significant damage to the country. So, what assurances are there? Should we not be concerned about the environment? Should we not be concerned when it comes to Americans who could be affected negatively by this oil?
REP. OLSON: We should absolutely be concerned about our environment, and I guarantee you the Keystone XL pipeline – it is designed to be the – the safest pipeline in the world. It’s going to be put deeper than most pipelines have been. That eliminates the – the real problem with pipelines is people on the surface penetrating the pipeline and having some sort of blowout. It’ll be designed deeper. It’s going across this aquifer, but I[’ve] got a – I don’t think you can probably see it here, but here’s a couple of numbers for you. This Oglala aquifer, which is a big problem in Nebraska – there’re already now 25,000 miles of pipeline going through that aquifer right now. Two thousand of them are in Nebraska. Again, the Keystone XL pipeline is not novel. It’s – it’s the safest pipeline in the world’s history, and we need to get this thing built as quickly as possible and create 20,000 American jobs, reduce our dependence upon Middle Eastern sources of energy.
MR. MARTIN: All right. Congressman Olson, I certainly appreciate it and look forward to back – having you back on “Washington Watch.” Thanks a bunch.
REP. OLSON: Thanks, Roland. Come on home, son. Come –
MR. MARTIN: I wi- —
REP. OLSON: – back.
MR. MARTIN: — I will do.