Congresswoman Noem’s Weekly Column: Bypass the Bureaucracy

Bypass the Bureaucracy
By Rep. Kristi Noem
February 6, 2015

kristi noem headshot May 21 2014It’s a project that would support approximately 42,100 jobs, according to the U.S. State Department.  It’s a project that would generate millions of dollars in revenue for cash-strapped county governments in South Dakota every year, supporting needed infrastructure investments and critical community services.  It’s a project the majority of Americans agree we should move forward with – even in this hyper-partisan world we live in.

The project is the Keystone XL Pipeline and this week, Congress will be putting legislation on the President’s desk to finally approve it.  We’ve been debating this pipeline for more than six years.  In that time, nearly 10,000 miles of oil pipelines have been constructed in the United States, which is the equivalent of eight Keystone XL Pipelines.  And even without the pipeline, Canadian oil has flowed into the United States via roads and rails, which are much more costly and risky options.  So, what’s been the holdup?  The President has made this debate political.

Despite what the President said in his State of the Union address a few weeks ago, this isn’t just about “a single oil pipeline.” This administration has slow walked many attempts to expand America’s energy economy.  Recently, lower gas prices have given many families more financial independence.  Those prices are directly linked to more North American energy production and the additional influence the U.S. now has over global oil markets because of the increased supply.

That growth was achieved in spite of this administration’s policies.  Less oil was produced on federal lands in 2012 than in 2007.  But on non-federal lands, which don’t require federal approval, production increased 35 percent in that time.

The discrepancy between federal and non-federal production is due, at last in part, to a broken bureaucracy.  In many states, it takes less than a month to process drilling permits.  In North Dakota, for instance, it takes an average of 10 days.  In California, it’s seven days.  Texas averages a five-day turnaround, although expedited permits can be issued in as little as 48 hours.  A federal permit, on the other hand, takes more than 300 days to acquire.  But it hasn’t always been this way.  Since 2006, federal permitting times have increased by an incredible 41 percent.

I agree that we need to aim higher than a single pipeline, but I also believe that pipeline is a good place to start.  That’s why I’m voting to put this project on the President’s desk this week.  We must cut through the layers upon layers of red tape this administration has put in the way of a healthy economy.

Despite our efforts and the support of millions of Americans, the President has already promised to veto the legislation.  That won’t deter us. I believe it’s my responsibility to keep pushing forward commonsense, bipartisan measures like this.  Should he follow through on his veto threat – as I suspect he will – I will continue looking for legislative options that move this pipeline to completion.  It’s time to bypass the bureaucracy. It’s time to build.