Rep. Fred Upton, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, called for the Obama administration to allow the expansion of the Keystone Pipeline across international borders during a stop in Belmont County Thursday.
Upton, R-Mich., joined Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, and Shane Thompson, Republican candidate for Ohio House in the 95th District, for a campaign stop at the Smith Township Community Center in Jacobsburg.
"Obama - in his national radio address Saturday - said, 'I'll do whatever it takes to create jobs,'" Upton said. "We'll we're losing them ... hand over foot."
He spoke of the opportunities for jobs and energy supply yet to be realized through the Keystone Pipeline's proposed entry from Canada into America.
"So here is Canada - they're probably going to go to 4 million barrels (of oil) a day by the end of the decade," Upton said. "They want to send us that oil. It's a private pipeline.
The refineries - they have spent tens of billions expanding to get ready for it so that we can have a source using our friend's oil. You already get a million barrels a day from Canada, so this will expand that."
It's expected the pipeline expansion would create thousands of jobs in America, he noted.
"And yet the administration has been sitting on this for four years just to let the pipeline cross the international border - that's the only role they have," Upton said.
If America doesn't sign the pact with Canada, it's likely the country will export the oil to China, he noted. China will pay to expand the pipeline to the west, then ship the oil back home to China to fuel jobs and industry there, according to Upton.
"That's not where we want it to go," he said. "I believe we can have a North American energy independent plan. If we are going to compete with the rest of the world, we have the energy resources here to do that. So whether it's coal, whether it's natural gas, whether it's safe nuclear - and yes, whether its renewables - whether it's the Keystone Pipeline ... we can do it here. And we don't have to subscribe to some of the Middle Eastern elements that jack that price up."
Canada is our best friend, "except in hockey," Upton quipped.
"They're our largest exporter ... and we ought to be doing things to expand that relationship," he noted.
In his remarks, Johnson discussed recent job losses in the coal industry.
"The war on coal is not what some people have termed 'imaginary,'" Johnson said. "It is very, very real. It is not a fabrication. If you do not believe it is real, just ask the thousands that have lost their jobs as a result of the war on coal."
But Ed Good, former chairman of the Belmont County Democrat Party, asked Johnson and Upton if it were true coal production was actually up by 7 percent in the region.
"It's my understanding, coal production is down," Upton said.
Johnson acknowledged it might be true that coal production is up locally, but he said a lot of the coal being harvested in Ohio is going to China.
"It's just like manufacturing," he said. "Because of the regulatory burden and tax burden coming out of Washington, D.C., coal operators are having to send their product off shore. If it is up, it's up because we are exporting it. And countries like China don't subscribe to the environmental concerns we Americans do. They are not going to be concerned about carbon emissions."
The war on coal is actually a two-pronged attacked, according to Johnson - one in which both the production and the marketing of coal are being targeted through environmental regulations.