GOP seeks to tie Keystone, gas exports to jobless benefits bill

Senate Republicans want the Keystone XL pipeline and natural gas exports to ride the coattails of unemployment benefits.

Republican Sens. John Hoeven (N.D.), John Barrasso (Wyo.), and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) on Tuesday proposed an amendment to the jobless aid bill that finds a path forward for Keystone and expedites natural gas export applications.

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The trio argues that between the $5.4 billion pipeline and liquified natural gas (LNG) exports, nearly 100,000 jobs would be created, and the U.S. could help Ukraine, NATO members, and Japan.

"As we consider an extension of Unemployment Insurance benefits, we should also be considering measures that will actually address the problem by creating jobs for the long-term unemployed," Hoeven said in statement on Tuesday.

"Our energy legislation could help create thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity. At the same time, expanding America’s energy supply with projects like the Keystone XL pipeline, combined with approval for increased LNG exports, will send a powerful signal to our friends and foes alike that America is both energy secure and that we stand firmly beside our allies in Ukraine and NATO," Hoeven added.

Murkowski cited the energy boom as a catalyst to change the country's energy outlook and further reason to send exports overseas.

However, an aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said it remains highly unlikely any of the energy amendments proposed by Republicans will be agreed to by Democrats.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is also attempting to tie an amendment of his own aimed at the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed carbon emissions limits for new and existing coal-fired power plants to the unemployment bill, which may come to a final vote by Wednesday.

And Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) is also floating an amendment that stops the Senate from considering legislation that would create a carbon tax on emissions for the country's biggest polluters.

“America’s most vulnerable families are the hardest hit by costly and burdensome energy policies like a carbon tax,” Blunt said in a statement.