By Sen. John Thune
South Dakotans frequently share with me their frustrations and concerns with Washington’s overreach into Americans’ lives. Despite the progress the new Senate Republican majority has made on many issues that impact hard-working families and small businesses across the country, the fact remains that Washington continues to be plagued by the failed leadership of the Obama administration.
Every September, we mark an anniversary that has become symbolic of the administration’s obstructionism: the filing of the construction permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. This year marks seven years since the permit was first filed. Even though the Obama State Department has reviewed hundreds of thousands of comments and completed five environmental impact statements, all of which found the pipeline would have no significant impact on the environment, the administration has continued to slow-walk an important infrastructure project that would immediately create “shovel-ready” jobs during construction, including 3,000-4,000 direct and indirect jobs in our state alone. The construction and operation of the pipeline would also bring crucial tax dollars to South Dakota municipalities along the route and bolster America’s energy independence.
Legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline was the first bill the GOP-led Senate considered this year. It passed with a strong bipartisan vote of over 60 senators supporting the bill. In February, President Obama sided with the liberal wing of his party and vetoed this legislation that would bring more energy to the United States and more economic growth in South Dakota. This is not the kind of leadership that will get our economy working again.
I recognize that the Keystone XL pipeline is only one project, but the administration’s attitude toward important energy investment has become all too pervasive. On August 3, the Obama Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final rule against affordable electricity generation. This plan will increase electricity bills for Americans across the country, hurting job growth and families’ pocketbooks as it forces our most reliable and affordable sources of power generation out of operation – all while countries like China and India continue to pollute and exploit a competitive advantage of cheaper energy.
In the coming weeks, the EPA is expected to finalize what is estimated to be the most costly regulations in the agency’s history via a lower smog standard. The proposed range for a lower standard will draw large swaths of the country into nonattainment including areas in South Dakota, subjecting communities to stiff federal penalties, increased business costs, restrictions on infrastructure investment, and lost highway dollars. Even areas in marginal attainment will face steep challenges in attracting new economic development.
These and other regulations are hampering America’s economic recovery and have real-world impacts on South Dakota families and small businesses. Many of our efforts in the Senate to combat these regulations have been thwarted by a president committed to cementing his legacy. Unfortunately for hard-working Americans, the president’s legacy will be one plagued by obstructionism and federal overreach, the consequences of which will have a lasting impact. That is why Senate Republicans have been committed to enacting a pro-growth agenda that would help revive businesses, reduce tax and regulatory burdens, restore American values, and grow the middle class. The president might fight against this progress, but we’ll continue to fight back.