A slate of national Republican figures continues to campaign this week on behalf of Arkansas GOP candidates. Speaking in Little Rock Wednesday recently promoted House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) lent support to 2nd Congressional nominee French Hill amid a field of pipe sitting idle, awaiting a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline.
“Arkansas has a major say of which direction this country’s going to go. Are you going to become a stockpile or job creation? From the determination of your governor’s race to the majority of the Senate to the majority of the House, what type of economy do you want?” said McCarthy.
The lot at Welspun Tubular has served as a backdrop for several politicians in recent years. Mark Pyror, Tom Cotton, Tim Griffin, and a host of state legislators are among those having used miles of already purchased pipeline to emphasize their positions on the hotly contested pipeline intended to stretch from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico transporting heavy crude oil through several environmentally sensitive sites and the nation's largest aquifer the Ogallala using some of the latest pipeline technologies.
McCarthy criticized Hill’s Democratic opponent Pat Hays for signing a letter in 2011 saying the environmental risks of the pipeline – as proposed at that time – warranted further review and weren’t in the nation’s interest.
Hays, the mayor of North Little Rock from 1989-2013, responded in a statement saying his concerns have been addressed in subsequent federal reviews and alternations to the Keystone XL proposal.
“This is just the latest sign of how out of-touch French Hill really is: he thinks things are going fine in Washington and that an endorsement from a California politician and the leader of the broken Congress will help him here in Arkansas. Mayor Hays initially had some questions on the impact of the pipeline, received an evaluation and now supports it – which French could have found out by going to his website."
McCarthy painted Hays as an extremist.
“We had a vote in the Senate. We had Republicans and Democrats join in. We had a vote in the House and we had 19 Democrats join in. The difference is Hays is out of step even with Democrats. He’s too extreme. He’s the progressive,” said McCarthy.
Hill, the CEO of Delta Trust and Banking Corp. contends further delay in Keystone’s construction is not acceptable.
“Infrastructure is something we talk about all the time and yet we sit and delay and talk instead of act. What we need is less talk and more action and that action will produce the kind of jobs, careers and opportunities that our families want, not only here, but across our country. I believe that it can be done in the right way and that it will be done the right way,” said Hill.
Hill and Hays also face Libertarian Debbie Standiford on the November ballot.
McCarthy also stopped in Hot Springs Wednesday in support of 4th District GOP hopeful Bruce Westerman. He faces Democrat James Lee Witt and Libertarian Ken Hamilton.
Earlier this week Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus stopped in Little Rock at an event with Republican senate candidate Tom Cotton and Attorney General nominee Leslie Rutledge.
2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney visited Jonesboro with Asa Hutchinson Wednesday and plans to stop in Little Rock Thursday. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a possible presidential contender, is visiting the state later this month.
Libertarian Debbie Standiford issued a statement condemning the process by which the pipeline route has been procured to this point.
"If it weren't for government interference, the Keystone XL Pipeline problem would likely have been solved already. Unlike politically motivated bureaucracies, private landowners and conservation groups have a vested interest in preserving the resources they own. We would do better to return all land to private owners and allow private contracts for land usage and restitution resolve this issue outside the realm of government."
In her statement Standiford also contended punishments for environmental harm and pollution are too light and create an incentive to pursue cost cutting measures at the expense of violating legal safeguards for the public.
"Under our current system, large corporations face only fines when they pollute our environment; these fines are often relatively small in comparison to restitution; therefore, it becomes cheaper to simply pollute now and pay the fine later. Meanwhile, Federal and local governments own over 40% of our land mass, and they are, undisputedly, the largest polluters of our land while remaining largely unaccountable for their actions. So asking for government solutions to environmental questions is, at best, naive."