GOP blames ‘red tape’ for five-year wait on Keystone pipeline

The hearing, featuring testimony from lawmakers and business groups, marked the fifth anniversary of TransCanada’s application to build a pipeline stretching from Alberta to the Gulf Coast.

It also comes as House Republicans are pressing to include approval of the project in any agreement to raise the debt ceiling.

Tying the approval to the debt-ceiling fight could further complicate the fight over government funding, which now centers on a GOP demand to defund the president’s Affordable Care Act.

President Obama has said he would oppose the Keystone project if it would worsen the affects of climate change.

That’s exactly what would happen if the pipeline went forward, Rep. Henry Waxman (R-Calif.) argued.

Waxman, the panel’s top Democrat, said building the pipeline would create the same amount of carbon pollution as building seven new coal-fired power plants. He slammed GOP lawmakers for focusing too much of the panel’s time on the controversial project.

“Instead of doing something to address climate change, today we’re holding the eleventh hearing since 2011 to push one favored project that would make climate change worse,” Waxman said.

Other opponents echoed those concerns and accused Keystone supporters of the project of overstating benefits of the project.

But Republicans, along with witnesses representing the industry and labor unions, argued that the delays are costing the country an estimated 42,000 jobs.

They noted that the delays have taken longer than it took the United States to build the Golden Gate Bridge, or win World War II.

“The president’s inaction and the bureaucratic delays have created uncertainty about whether or not my state will get to reap the benefits of this pipeline,” Rep. Steven Daines (R-Mont.) told the panel.

Daines was among a trio of congressional Republicans testifying about the consequences of delays on their home states and districts.

Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) said jobs and revenue lost delays in a final decision on Keystone stems from larger problems facing businesses under the Obama administration.

“The regulatory burden is hurting our economy, and the keystone pipeline is a clear example of that,” he testified.

This story was updated at 1:34 p.m. to correct Upton's party affilaition.