Feb 17, 2012
"On January 4, 2012, President Obama bypassed the Senate’ s constitutional right to advise and consent to nominees and instead unilaterally made appointments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and National Labor Relations Board. He purported to do so under the Constitution’s Recess Appointments Clause, even though at the time of the appointments the Senate was holding pro-forma sessions approximately every 72 hours.
"If allowed to stand, President Obama’s unprecedented and unconstitutional assertion of the recess appointment power could result in presidents of both parties routinely circumventing the Senate’s Advice and Consent function and thus depriving the people’s representatives of an essential constitutional check on the executive branch. President Obama’s actions also violate the Constitution’s separation of powers. He has asserted the unilateral power to override Congress’s own determination of when it is in session. At an absolute minimum, the Senate’s institutional prerogatives demand that we be allowed to make our own rules, and yet President Obama’s actions would deprive our body of even that basic right.
"In the past, I have given the President’s judicial nominees great deference. Both in the Judiciary Committee and on the floor, I have voted in favor of the vast majority of President Obama’s nominees, including many which whom I fundamentally disagree.
"But I can do so no more. The Founders expected that each branch of government would exercise the necessary constitutional means to resist encroachments by the other branches. Among those constitutional means is the Senate’s Advice and Consent function, which I exercised today by voting against a nominee that otherwise might have received my support. Thirty three other Senators did the same.
"The President cannot expect the Senate’s full cooperation at the same time that he does violence to this body’s constitutional prerogatives. The threshold for confirming President Obama’s nominees must change accordingly. Simply put, there is a new standard for confirmation.
"Both today, and in the coming days, I will join with other Senators to act as a check on the President’s unconstitutional conduct by voting against some nominees. I expect that many of my Republican colleagues, and in time some of my Democratic colleagues, will rise in defense of the Constitution and vote against President Obama’s nominees until such time that he takes actions to restore the Senate’s full constitutional right to advise and consent to his nominees. "
Feb 15, 2012
WASHINGTON - Yesterday, Senator Mike Lee introduced legislation that would prohibit abortions in Washington, D.C. after the 20th week of pregnancy, the point at which doctors say a child has developed the ability to experience pain. The “District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” is modeled on legislation passed in Nebraska, Kansas, Idaho, Oklahoma, and Alabama. There are no current restrictions on abortions in the District.
“Protecting unborn children from experiencing pain should not be controversial,” said Senator Lee. “Similar laws have already been passed in multiple states. With respect to the Federal District, Congress not only has the responsibility to act immediately, but also the undisputed authority to do so.
“Over the years, science has developed the ability to determine when an unborn child can experience pain. On this basis, I hope we are able to reach broad consensus where science has moved forward. While I will continue to fight for further protection of life, there is no justifiable reason for anyone to oppose this specific level of protection.”
Feb 13, 2012
Feb 9, 2012
Feb 8, 2012
WASHINGTON – Utah’s Congressional delegation today wrote to Secretary Ken Salazar of the U.S. Department of the Interior to urge he overturn the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for Oil Shale and Tar Sands that was recently announced. The PEIS reduced the federal lands available to oil shale development from 2 million acres to only 461,965 acres. Closing off these lands is a significant missed opportunity to create jobs and lower energy costs for Utahns.
In the letter to Secretary Salazar, the delegation notes that the BLM ruling runs contrary to President Obama’s message in his recent State of the Union address where he called for an “all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy.”
HATCH: “The BLM’s decision is yet another assault on American energy production and the jobs that come with it. By cutting back the original oil shale and tar sands development lands by 75 percent, the Administration has made it clear that instead of going against their liberal environmentalist allies in an election year, their willing to import more foreign sources of oil and export more American jobs. It’s another failure in leadership from this White House while energy costs and unemployment are both far too high.”
LEE: "In his State of the Union, the President said he wanted to pursue an 'all of the above' energy strategy, but apparently that doesn't include one of the country's most abundant domestic sources. That has to set a land speed record for broken promises. Unfortunately, it will be the American people who suffer, both in lost jobs and in higher energy prices."
MATHESON: “If the goal is to become less dependent on foreign oil, we need more domestic supply, including from untapped sources. New methodology to extract oil from shale is on the horizon in Utah. It should be allowed to compete for commercial development and BLM’s proposed leasing rules are an obstacle.”
BISHOP: “The Department of Interior’s decision to radically reduce BLM lands available for energy production in Utah and other western states illustrates this Administration’s lack of commitment to advance energy independence and jobs in the U.S. The political unrest occurring in many of the oil producing countries, upon which we increasingly rely, could send prices skyrocketing, and it’s hard-working Americans who would be forced to shoulder the burden of rising costs. This doesn’t have to be the case when we have abundant resources located right here in the U.S. that remain untapped, and millions of Americans out of work who would benefit from the subsequent creation of new jobs. Unfortunately, though, we have an Administration that is focused more on reelection and appealing to their special interest group supporters than doing what’s right for the future of this country.”
CHAFFETZ: “President Obama is hostile towards American energy. His decision to shut down oil shale development on public lands inhibits energy independence and economic growth. BLM professionals conducted a three-year, stakeholder driven environmental analysis pursuant to the bipartisan Energy and Policy Act of 2005. This apparently wasn’t good enough for the President. His need to re-review the review is disappointing and is lacking in leadership.”
To view the letter to Secretary Salazar, click HERE. The full text of the letter is below:
February 7, 2012
The Honorable Ken Salazar
United States Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20240
Dear Secretary Salazar:
We write to provide our comments on the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for Oil Shale and Tar Sands. Our strongly held view is that the premise of the PEIS is supported by neither the spirit nor letter of the law, that the alternatives considered by this document are deficient, and that all of the preferred alternatives run contrary to the needs of the nation and of the President’s State of the Union message calling for an “all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy.” The BLM’s stated preference for reducing the available acreage of oil shale and oil sands development by more than 75 percent causes the President’s statement to ring hollow.
Congress enacted the Oil Shale, Tar Sands, and Other Strategic Unconventional Fuels Act as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005), which passed with a large bipartisan majority. The law recognized the national strategic importance of developing domestic unconventional fuels and called for an effort by the relevant agencies of this government to “coordinate and accelerate the commercial development” of oil shale and oil sands. That is the spirit and letter of the law. With this announcement, the BLM is pursuing a path that is contrary to the clear intent of the law.
As required by EPAct 2005, three years of intensive studies, widespread stakeholder input, and robust public comment led to a comprehensive report by the Task Force on Strategic Unconventional Fuels and a final Oil Shale Rule in 2008 which set forth 2 million acres of land available for potential oil shale development. We fail to understand why that massive regulatory process, completed by countless government professionals, is being arbitrarily discarded by the BLM. We also cannot discern whereby the BLM has the authority to unilaterally reverse enacted law or to break precedent by willfully failing to offer a No-Action Alternative. Even the BLM’s early announcement that it would revisit the 2008 Oil Shale Rule to consider wilderness characteristics would have been forbidden by the Congressional funding moratorium on the Department of the Interior Secretarial Wildlands Order 3310.
It is well known that the Department of Energy has determined that U.S. oil shale resources are about three times as large as the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. As the world and our President must deal with an increasingly dangerous Middle East, it is unconscionable at this time to retreat from one of America’s greatest potential energy sources, especially when industry has shown the will and the means to move forward.
As you well know, oil shale has been commercially produced and sold competitively in global oil markets for decades. There is no lack of existing technology or data associated with that technology. Moreover, there has already been an impressive level of investment by members of industry ready to bring current and enhanced technology to American oil shale deposits. What is needed is a regulatory atmosphere that encourages this trend. Sadly, it appears that your administration has taken every opportunity to send the opposite signal to this burgeoning industry. The latest move by the BLM to restrict by more than 75 percent the acreage available to possible oil shale research and development would do harm to this industry and our nation’s energy security.
We strongly urge you to bring your department’s actions in line with the current law and the stated goals of the President Barack Obama. Rather than retreat from this important and strategic undertaking, you should take steps to vigorously defend the 2008 Oil Shale PEIS.
Feb 2, 2012
Feb 1, 2012
Feb 1, 2012
Jan 30, 2012
WASHINGTON –U.S. Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), David Vitter (R-La.) and a total of 44 senators today announced that they will introduce legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project under Congress’s authority enumerated in the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8. The bipartisan group of senators committed to working together to advance this critical project for the United States. Hoeven, Lugar and the other senators have been working with colleagues in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to ensure that this vital project is advanced.
The legislation authorizes TransCanada to construct and operate the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to the U.S. Gulf Coast, transporting an additional 830,000 barrels of oil per day to U.S. refineries, which includes 100,000 barrels a day from the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana. The bill allows the company to move forward with construction of the pipeline in the United States while the state of Nebraska works to determine an alternative route. Hoeven secured an opinion from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) confirming Congress’s constitutional authority to approve the project.
The Keystone XL pipeline project has been under review for more than three years, but President Obama rejected it last week saying the 60-day provision authored by Lugar, Hoeven and Vitter included in the payroll tax cut extension bill passed in December didn’t give him enough time to review the project. In fact, the Obama Administration spent 1,217 days reviewing the pipeline and there was no time limit on the State Department’s ability to review the Nebraska portion of the project.
“Our legislation not only acknowledges the vital national interest this project represents on many levels, but also works in a bipartisan way to begin construction,” Senator Hoeven said. “It will create thousands of jobs, help control fuel prices at the pump and reduce our reliance on Middle East oil and it can be accomplished with congressional authority, just as the Alaska Pipeline was nearly 40 years ago. The reality is that if America doesn’t build the Keystone project the Canadian oil will still be produced and shipped, but instead of being refined in the United States by American workers and benefiting American consumers, it will be shipped by tanker across the Pacific to China.”
“The job creation, economic and energy security arguments are overwhelmingly in favor of building the pipeline. A majority of Americans support it. President Obama’s opposition is not in the best interest of the United States. The President has failed to lead but we will not stop trying to complete this critical supply line,” Senator Lugar said.
“This new bill is a lot like the old one, but it makes it definitive that Congress has the authority to push the Keystone XL Pipeline forward,” said Senator Vitter. “Everyone in Washington talks about saving the economy and creating jobs – the Keystone XL project will actually do something about that. And it would be pure politics for the president not to support it.”
“The President said recently that he was for an ‘all of the above’ approach to energy, yet he rejected the one bipartisan energy project that is shovel-ready and can produce thousands of new jobs almost immediately – the Keystone XL Pipeline,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said. “While it’s clear that the President was appealing to his liberal environmental base when he blocked Keystone, this legislation would move us towards the creation of thousands of jobs and energy security for our nation.”
The Keystone XL pipeline has been subject to rigorous environmental analysis for more than three years, and was on schedule to be decided on by the U.S. State Department by the end of 2011. By contrast, the original Keystone pipeline took two years to review and became operational last year.
The Hoeven-Lugar-Vitter legislation builds off the completed Environmental Impact Statement, which was finished by the State Department on Aug. 26, 2011. Additionally, it requires the U.S. State Department to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) within 30 days with the State of Nebraska to assist in rerouting in that state, which will be subject to the Nebraska governor’s agreement on the route within the state. However, it allows Nebraska all the time it needs to identify a new route within the state to strengthen the completed Environmental Impact Statement.
Further, the legislation requires strong environmental and safety requirements by incorporating the environmental and safety standards required and finalized by the Secretary of State. At the same time, the bill protects state and local laws relating to the protection of private property rights by ensuring those laws are not changed in this process.
In addition to Senators Hoeven, Lugar, and Vitter, other original cosponsors of the bill are Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), John Thune (R-S.D.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.); Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Patrick Toomey (R-Penn.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
What Senators Are Saying
Sen. Mike Lee:
“There is absolutely no rational justification for standing in the way of profitable enterprise that would create American jobs, American wealth, and greater American energy security. President Obama is kowtowing to the most extreme elements of the environmentalist movement by blocking the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and he has the audacity to do so while calling Congress ‘obstructionist.’ It is time for America to reject the president’s failed economic policies and embrace proven methods of job creation, and this bill is a step in the right direction.”
Sen. Mike Johanns:
“This pipeline is not only a national priority because of the energy and jobs it will bring, it’s also a Nebraska priority. I believe we must move the project forward while still allowing Nebraska and TransCanada the time they need to find the right route through our state and this legislation does that.”
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison:
“We have spent billions in this country on ‘stimulus' packages that have not stimulated employment. With the Keystone Pipeline we have a private, non-taxpayer entity that will create thousands of jobs, bring approximately 700,000 barrels of oils sands to Texas refineries, and produce cheaper energy for families and small businesses in our country.”
Sen. Jerry Moran:
“Our country cannot afford to further delay long-term energy security, and unemployed Americans with the skills to construct this important project should not be forced to wait any longer. The Obama Administration has already spent three years reviewing the Keystone XL permit and conducting two comprehensive environmental evaluations of the project. Furthermore, the Canadian government has made it clear they will pursue other markets if this project cannot be completed. This legislation would put Americans to work now and provide an opportunity to grow local, state and national economies while taking a vital step toward energy security.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch:
“The White House’s decision to reject the Keystone pipeline project was another failure in leadership from one of the most anti-American-energy Administrations in our nation’s history. This common-sense legislation would overturn the White House’s inexplicable decision and allow this critical, job-creating project to move forward.”
Sen. Ron Johnson:
“President Obama says he wants to create jobs, invest in shovel ready infrastructure projects, and reduce America’s dependence on Middle East oil. But then he kills the Keystone XL pipeline, and the 20,000 jobs and the billions of dollars in private sector infrastructure spending that died with it. The President’s decision shows where his true loyalties lie: with extreme environmentalists. He is showing once again his dedication to increasing the federal government’s control and intrusion into our lives. I'm pleased to join as an original cosponsor of this legislation, which would allow this important project to go forward.”
Sen. Mike Crapo:
“The Keystone XL Pipeline project will create immediate jobs, stimulate the economy and generate new revenue for cash-strapped state and local governments. Further delays simply to satisfy political allies unnecessarily sacrifices real job creation for narrow interests.”
Sen. Dan Coats:
“It is both irrational and disingenuous for an administration that claims its number one priority is jobs to block a project that would put thousands of Americans back to work. We need results from Washington, not more excuses. Keystone XL pipeline has bipartisan support because it will provide jobs for hardworking Americans and reduce our country’s dependence on Middle East oil.”
Sen. Rob Portman:
“I urge President Obama to support the Keystone XL pipeline, one of the largest private sector infrastructure projects in the nation. This project would create tens of thousands of jobs, and would likely benefit Ohio’s struggling manufacturing sector.”
Sen. Saxby Chambliss:
“We simply cannot afford to delay approval of the Keystone pipeline permit any longer. Its construction will allow us to increase oil imports from Canada, a trusted ally and friend. By rejecting this permit, President Obama is putting his own re-election ahead of America’s economy and energy security. After years of review and environmental evaluation, it’s time to move forward on this project. This legislation will ensure we do just that.”
Sen. John Cornyn:
“The Keystone XL pipeline will bring thousands of long-term jobs and energy security to the United States, and will be good for the economy, good for national security, and good for Texas.”
Sen. Lamar Alexander:
“If the president won’t act, Congress should. There’s no excuse not to move forward with a pipeline that will create 20,000 jobs and make us less reliant on oil from hostile countries.”
Sen. Pat Toomey:
“We can’t wait for the president to drag his feet on this job-creating project any longer. Instead of focusing on American energy security and putting people back to work, the president has chosen to appease environmental special interests instead. It’s time for Congress to step up and do what the president hasn’t – authorize this pipeline and create tens of thousands of American jobs, increase our access to oil from our friends in Canada, and diminish our dependence on less secure sources of energy.”
Sen. Joe Manchin:
“As our country continues to need oil, common sense tells me I’d rather buy it from our friends in Canada, not countries around the world that seek to do us harm. I’d rather buy from our closest ally and create jobs in America than push Canada to build a pipeline out to the West Coast of North America that benefits countries like China. This pipeline is a job creator with support of both labor and business. It needs to be built not for the benefit of one political party or one state, but for the benefit of America.”
Sen. Johnny Isakson:
“Now, more than ever, our country needs leadership on energy security. Unfortunately, President Obama failed to provide leadership when he rejected the Keystone XL pipeline last week. I am proud to join my Republican colleagues in the Senate in rejecting the president’s action by trying to move the Keystone XL pipeline forward. I will continue to do everything I can to support this critically important project, which will bring 700,000 barrels of crude to the U.S. from our strong ally Canada and at the same time, create thousands of American jobs.”
Sen. Dean Heller:
“Job creation should be a top priority for Congress and the Keystone XL pipeline would undoubtedly create jobs for Americans at a time when our nation needs them most. Moreover, it would contribute to our nation’s energy security which is critical to economic growth. It is time to put partisanship aside and start moving legislation that will help put Americans back to work.”
Sen. Bob Corker:
“The Keystone pipeline will create thousands of American jobs and provide our country with access to a large supply of North American energy. There is no good reason to block this project when we really need the energy and the jobs the pipeline would generate.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions:
“Instead of pouring money into politically-favored companies like Solyndra, the President should have allowed the construction of the Keystone Pipeline which would have produced thousands of good-paying jobs. This bill is a great way to create jobs without adding to the debt and will make our country stronger and more energy independent.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham:
“The Obama Administration’s decision to delay construction of the Keystone XL pipeline was irresponsible. Keystone XL will create thousands of jobs in the United States and also help reduce our dependence on oil from the Middle East and Venezuela. The construction and operation of Keystone XL is an economic and energy must-do for the United States. I am pleased to support this effort and am hopeful it will pass the Congress in a strong, bipartisan vote.”
Sen. Jim Risch:
“The decision by President Obama to deny the permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline was flat wrong and puts politics before jobs and economic growth. That denial could very well allow the Chinese government to strike a deal and have the oil shipped to them instead of the U.S. This legislation prevents that by clearing the way for this project to move forward.”
Jan 28, 2012
“The President’s recent recess appointments were unconstitutional. As a Senator, sworn to protect and defend the Constitution, I am duty-bound to resist the president’s actions and seek to restore our nation's proper constitutional order.
“Ironically, the President invoked our Founding Fathers in his remarks claiming they did not envision such a defense of our constitutional rights. In fact, the Founding Fathers specifically instituted a system of checks and balances designed to protect American liberties against the unrestrained power of a tyrannical Executive. The Founders worried that one branch would attempt to assert its will over the others, so they supplied each branch with tools and incentives to resist such encroachments. That is what I am exercising here.
“Sadly, the President has sought to make this a partisan issue; but the Constitution is not partisan. The Constitution does not allow any president, Republican or Democrat, to circumvent the Senate in making appointments, and I will resist, just as vigorously, members of my own party who would attempt to do the same thing.
“I ask the President to stop campaigning briefly and reread the relevant portions of the Constitution.
“Article Two, Section Two says the president ‘shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States…’ and that ‘The President shall have power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.’
“Appointments may be made if one of two conditions are satisfied: either the Senate has given its advice and consent, or when the Senate is in recess. The Senate did not consent to these appointments; nor was it in recess. The President cannot make appointments unilaterally and he does not have the authority unilaterally to decide whether the Senate is in recess. These appointments were therefore unconstitutional.
“From ObamaCare to the takeover of the auto industry to his unconstitutional attempt to make recess appointments, the president has consistently shown almost no regard for the constitutional limitations placed on his office.
“That is why I must take a stand. And I call on all Americans – Republicans, Democrats, Independents – who care about our nation, to stand with me in opposition to this blatant and egregious encroachment on our basic constitutional liberties.”