While I sat listening to President Obama’s State of the Union address a couple of weeks back, I couldn’t help but recall the old adage: “Actions speak louder than words.”
In February of 2009, at the beginning of his presidency, President Obama said: “If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.”
America Before President Obama Took Office and Now
|Number of Unemployed
|National Unemployment Rate
|Price of Gas
|Median Value of Single-Family Home
|Rate of Mortgage Delinquencies
|U.S. National Debt
I was thinking of all of this because just days before the State of the Union, his administration made the stunning decision to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline project. That’s the 1,661-mile pipeline from Alberta, Canada that would deliver crude oil to points in Oklahoma and Texas. It would bring $7 billion in private sector investment, create 20,000 direct jobs and 100,000 indirect jobs, and produce $5.2 billion in property taxes. A number of unions support Keystone because of the good jobs it would create, at a time when our country needs them most.
In August 2011, Obama’s State Department said that the pipeline would have limited adverse environmental impacts. The route was even changed to avoid the pipeline crossing a sensitive aquifer in Nebraska.
The pipeline has the capacity to carry 830,000 barrels of oil per day – doubling current capacity and make us less dependent on oil from countries that don’t like us all that much. On top of all of that, the Strait of Hormuz-the checkpoint for 35 percent of the world’s waterborne oil-is currently being threatened by the Iranian regime.
The application for the pipeline had been with the State Department since Sept. 19, 2008; more than 1,200 days ago. In rejecting the application, the Obama administration said it needed more time. I know bureaucrats work slow…but let’s get real. This decision had nothing to do with needing more time to evaluate a good jobs-creating project.
In his State of the Union, he said the country needed to pursue an “all of the above” energy strategy. The week before, he killed the Keystone project and the tens of thousands of American jobs it would have created.
Actions speak louder than words.
It’s been a busy beginning to 2012 for work around Oregon. I’ve already traveled nearly 700 miles over the past three weekends for meetings and public events in Josephine, Jackson, Klamath, Deschutes, Jefferson, and Wasco counties, including a town hall meeting in The Dalles on Saturday.
After 15 years of work, we finally pushed The Dalles Readiness Center over the finish line. I can’t think of an effort I’ve put more time and energy into. The 1950’s-era armory in The Dalles is way past overdue for an upgrade; the new facility at Columbia Gorge Community College will provide not only updated facilities for our troops, but also great new space for the college and community at large.
I continue to push back on the tidal wave of regulations coming from the administration, including the ill-advised attempt to regulate dust on farms! Hey, if we had enough rain, we wouldn’t call it dryland wheat farming! There are currently 3,118 regulations in the pipeline-167 of which will have a major impact on the economy. That’s on top of the 1,010 regulations already completed, including 45 with major impacts.
I’ve been a small business owner in Oregon for more than two decades, so I know how damaging layers upon layers of useless red tape can be on job creators. Small businesses account for 65 percent of new jobs created in the United States. That’s 9.8 million of the 15 million net new jobs created between 1993 and 2009.
I’m continuing to work on a bipartisan plan to make up for the loss of county timber payments. What we need is a long-term solution that gets counties off federal handouts, puts Oregonians back to work in the woods, and uses the revenue to fund essential services like schools, roads, and law enforcement.
Great news for Harney, Grant, and Lake counties: the USDA approved two large-scale forest landscape restoration projects that will bring much-needed jobs to rural Oregon. I wrote to the USDA in early January to strongly encourage these two highly rated projects. Lakeview Stewardship Landscape project will treat 150,000 acres and create about 88 jobs. The Southern Blues Restoration project (Grant and Harney counties) will treat 271,980 acres and create more about 154 new jobs.
In Klamath Falls, I intervened on an 11th hour attempt by the federal government to hold up a $2 million investment by the Klamath Irrigation District (KID) in a small-scale hydroelectric facility that will create 18 jobs, 3,000 MWH of power annually, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue each year. The agencies were going to require KID to construct a fish screen at the drop in the C Canal where the hydro plant would go in…but there’s already a fish screen on the A Canal. There’s no reason for another screen. The agencies lifted their objections in early January.
Veterans in Grants Pass have been frustrated that the clinic in town has a very limited capacity to serve area veterans. I urged the VA in meetings and correspondence to designate the Grants Pass Rural Outreach Clinic as a community-based outpatient clinic to serve additional veterans. They agreed to expand its service to better serve the needs of 1,000 veterans in Josephine County, sparing them the 30 or 70 mile drive to White City or Roseburg for routine care.
In eastern Oregon, I worked with our senators to make sure the Umatilla Chemical Depot could close…as planned for the last 20 years or so. The Defense Department floated the idea of closing the facility under a different process than BRAC, which would essentially have forced the community to scrap the work and the more than $1 million in taxpayer money that’s been invested in the planning process.
In central Oregon, I’ve been helping with two different efforts to save taxpayer money. After years with no objection, FEMA asked for hundreds of thousands of dollars back from Deschutes County for allegedly allowing fire prevention work to be done without the proper permits….even though FEMA received the environmental assessments in question from the county years before. I called the FEMA administrator directly to urge him not to punish the county for doing the right thing. I received word last week that the issue has mostly been straightened out, but I’ll be keeping an eye on it.
The city of Bend, meanwhile, needs some flexibility with an arbitrary EPA deadline that would force residents to spend $30 million while at the same time investing in already expensive water facility upgrades. After sending a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson asking her to grant Bend the same kind of flexibility it had already granted Portland and New York City, I convened a roundtable in Bend in the middle of January to strategize on ways forward.
I’ll continue to keep you updated every week or so on the latest both from the nation’s capital and around Oregon. There’s plenty of work to be done, and as always I appreciate your support as we work together to get this country back on the right track.