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Griffith speaks on issues at Scout event
Expresses support for Keystone XL pipeline
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Ninth District U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith (center) speaks with Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell (left) and George Lester on Tuesday at the Friends of Scouting luncheon at the speedway. In response to a question asked at the event, Griffith said he supports the Keystone XL pipeline despite concerns of environmentalists. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

In response to a question, 9th District U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith expressed support for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline Tuesday at the Friends of Scouting luncheon at the Martinsville Speedway.

When asked what could be done to get the pipeline built, Griffith, R-Salem, said, “Get people to understand it’s not a bad thing.”

According to the Washington Post, “The Keystone XL pipeline extension is the original name for a 1,664-mile project that would transport 830,000 barrels of crude oil a day, most of it from Canada’s oil sands to refineries in Port Arthur, Tex. It is the extension of TransCanada’s existing Keystone pipeline, which was completed last year. At this point the project has two segments: the 1,179-mile northern leg between Hardisty, Alberta and Steele City, Okla., which still requires a presidential permit, and the 485-mile southern leg known as the Gulf Coast Project between Steele City and Port Arthur, Tex., which is now operating.”

The Associated Press has reported that environmental, construction and other concerns have been raised over the northern leg of the pipeline. It is on hold pending a decision by the Obama administration.

Griffith has said that more than five years have passed since an application for the pipeline first was submitted to the U.S. State Department on Sept. 19, 2008, though other projects requiring a presidential permit took 18 to 24 months to review and approve. Griffith has said the project has bipartisan backing and the support of business and labor groups.

He said in a statement in March: “Earlier this year, the State Department found — again — that the Keystone XL pipeline would not significantly worsen carbon pollution. Further, pipelines are the safest and most efficient way we can transport this energy resource. Not only would construction of the Keystone XL pipeline incorporate important safety standards and be built using state-of-the-art technologies, but it will help to create a more energy-independent North America and will also create jobs.”

Griffith reiterated some of those points Tuesday and said the project has encountered opposition from environmentalists.

He also stressed the need for energy independence, the need to use energy responsibly, and said he believes the United States will continue to be the world’s leading economy for decades unless there is over-regulation.

In an interview, Griffith was asked about President Barack Obama’s comments Sunday that the United States likely will maintain a limited role in Afghanistan even after its combat mission ends this year as America’s longest war comes to a close, according to The Associated Press.

Griffith said if the central government of Afghanistan wants some U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan in a limited role, he would support Obama’s plan, but not if the Afghan central government does not want them there.

The troops should be used in a supportive role, not on the front lines, he said, adding he would like to help protect the gains made there.

“We have expended thousands of lives,” in terms of deaths and injuries, he said.

In an interview, Griffith also was asked about a Friday rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara, in which, according to the AP, three people were stabbed to death, three people were shot to death, seven others were wounded and the alleged attacker, Elliot Rodger, 22, apparently killed himself.

Richard Martinez, whose son, Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, was one of the victims killed, has decried the proliferation of guns he believes led to his son’s death.

Griffith, however, said he believes the rampage points to the need for improved laws to help people get mental health services they need sooner and that laws should be oriented to help families get help for relatives who need those services.

Also during the interview, Griffith said the Affordable Care Act has failed to live up to some of the promises made by Obama and his administration.

For example, Griffith stated in a newsletter May 12: “At a recent Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing, I asked representatives of some of the nation’s largest health insurance providers if their companies expected that health insurance premiums for an average family would be cut by $2,500 a year, as promised by Barack Obama when campaigning for his health care bill now known as Obamacare. Not one insurance company representative raised his hand, nor did they raise hands when I asked about a $2,000 reduction or a $1,500 reduction.”

Griffith also stated in the newsletter, “As reported by the Wall Street Journal, preliminary data indicates that insurance companies are proposing that their rates in Virginia will go up from approximately 3 percent to nearly 15 percent.”

In an effort to increase transparency, Griffith introduced the Insurance Rate Transparency Act, which would require that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services submit premium information to Congress within 30 days of receiving it.

During the luncheon, Griffith, a former Boy Scouts of America official, praised BSA as “a great organization,” expressed support for the work of the BSA Blue Ridge Mountains Council Patrick Henry District and urged financial donations.


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