Monday, November 14, 2011

More Mixed Reactions To State Department Project XL Decision

Nov 10: House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican leaders expressed deep disappointment in response to the Administration's announced delay of the Keystone XL pipeline decision [See WIMS 11/11/11]. On November 10, the State Department announced that it had determined it is necessary delay the project which could extend well into 2013 while it examines in-depth alternative routes that would avoid the Sand Hills area of Nebraska. The State Department noted that the Sand Hills area includes a high concentration of wetlands of special concern, a sensitive ecosystem, and extensive areas of very shallow groundwater. The final decision had originally been scheduled for the end of this year. The President issued a statement in support of the State Department decision.
    In a release, the Republican members including Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY), and Representative Lee Terry (R-NE) said, "Instead of approving the pipeline, and allowing this construction project to move forward and create a massive infusion of American jobs, the President refused to issue a decision on the Presidential Permit and continued to delay the project by directing the State Department to come up with an alternate route."

    The Republican Members said further, "The Keystone XL pipeline gives the President the unique opportunity to create thousands of jobs and advance our nation's energy security. All he has to do is say 'yes' and the jobs will come. Unfortunately, his plan to re-route the pipeline would delay a final decision until 2013. This is conveniently past election day, but far too long to make workers wait. Today's announcement doesn't get us any closer to a solution and does nothing to increase our nation's energy security or create needed jobs. All it does is kick the can down the road at a time we can least afford such inaction.

    "With a sluggish economy and stubbornly high unemployment, more delays are simply unacceptable. The Keystone XL pipeline is a shovel-ready jobs stimulus that won't cost taxpayers a dime. Construction of the pipeline will directly employ 20,000 Americans and create more than 100,000 spin-off jobs. Manufacturers and labor unions are begging the President to approve the pipeline so they can get blue-collar Americans back to work. Each day the President delays the project is another day an American worker remains unemployed.

    "This project has undergone more than three years of study since the application was submitted in September 2008, and about a year ago, Secretary Clinton said she was inclined to approve the pipeline. The President says we can't wait for jobs, but his decision to delay this project is jeopardizing the entire project and harming our energy and economic security in the process. Several analysts believe a delay of this magnitude could effectively kill the pipeline. If we don't import Canada's oil, China gladly will. The President's window of opportunity is quickly closing, and by refusing to make a decision, he is all but painting it shut. Bipartisan legislation sailed through the House once this year already, and we won't hesitate to act again to do whatever we can to move this job-creating project forward."

    The Democratic Ranking Member of the Committee, Henry Waxman (D-CA) released a very brief statement on the project saying, "The State Department recognized today that the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline threatens our health and security. We can act to avoid catastrophic climate change or we can lock in a 100-year dependence on tar sands -- the dirtiest, most carbon-polluting oil available -- but we cannot choose both. As the State Department further evaluates this misguided proposal, it must thoroughly and impartially address how the pipeline would exacerbate climate change, as well as other concerns."

    TransCanada Corporation, the project developer issued a lengthy release indicating that it has spoken with the State Department (DOS) and will have conversations with the DOS in the coming days to discuss next steps. The company said it has been informed that further analysis of route options for the Keystone XL pipeline need to be investigated, with a specific focus on the Sandhills in Nebraska.
    Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and chief executive officer said, "We remain confident Keystone XL will ultimately be approved. This project is too important to the U.S. economy, the Canadian economy and the national interest of the United States for it not to proceed." But Girling acknowledges while Keystone XL remains the best option for American and Canadian producers to get their oil to the U.S. Gulf Coast, the announcement by the DOS "could have potential negative ramifications, especially where shippers and U.S. refiners are concerned." He said, "Supplies of heavy crude from Venezuela and Mexico to U.S. refineries will soon end. If Keystone XL is continually delayed, these refiners may have to look for other ways of getting the oil they need.  Oil sands producers face the same dilemma -- how to get their crude oil to the Gulf Coast. If Keystone XL dies, Americans will still wake up the next morning and continue to import 10 million barrels of oil from repressive nations, without the benefit of thousands of jobs and long term energy security. That would be a tragedy."
    On November 10, Nebraska's Republican Governor Dave Heineman issued a statement regarding pipeline siting legislation being developed in the State. He said, "Yesterday the Legislature's Natural Resources Committee made a very important decision when it advanced pipeline siting legislation to the full Legislature for debate. I appreciate the extensive discussion that went into making this decision. The issue of pipeline siting legislation deserves a thoughtful and thorough debate by the full Legislature. Senator Langemeier's bill, LB 4, is a good starting point for the discussion. I want to commend Nebraskans for sharing their thoughts and concerns at the Legislature's committee hearings this week. Their comments were serious and sincere." Governor Heineman did not comment specifically on the State Department decision.
    Nebraska's Democratic Senator Ben Nelson issued a statement saying, "For more than a year, Nebraskans have voiced concerns about the proposed route of the pipeline. I have been in regular communication with the Department of State urging them to extend the comment period to allow Nebraska state agencies to comment, and to conduct hearings in Nebraska to hear firsthand from Nebraskans. The State department has responded to those concerns. Today's decision now allows the State of Nebraska another opportunity to exercise its authority and take action on behalf of Nebraskans, rather than waiting until it's too late. The State Department noted today that state laws govern routes of interstate pipelines, but Nebraska currently has no such law or process in place. It is my hope that the State of Nebraska will use the State Department's decision today to protect the interests of Nebraska citizens by exercising its authority to determine the appropriate pipeline route in Nebraska, and that the State Department will support Nebraska's decision. As I've said before, this is a fundamental states' rights issue."
    Nebraska's Republican Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE) sent a brief letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton following the State Department's announcement on the decision to delay saying, "If the announcement is a sincere effort to identify a better route within my state, I applaud the decision. I am concerned, however, that the Department's move today may serve only to delay the final decision until after the Presidential election. . . Considering your agency has studied the proposed route for several years, keeping it under consideration makes no sense given today's announcement. Please therefore consider this letter a formal request that the Department of State immediately acknowledge that the current route is no longer being considered." Senator Johanns said, ". . .while I oppose neither the development of the oil that will flow in the pipeline, nor the pipeline itself, I am convinced that the propose rout is the wrong route and should be rejected."

    Note: For additional reactions from other interests see the WIMS posting [See WIMS 11/11/11].

    Access the statement from the Republican Committee Members (click here). Access the statement from Rep. Waxman (click here). Access the release from TransCanada (click here). Access the TransCanada Keystone XL project website (click here). Access the statement from Gov. Heineman (click here). Access the statement from Sen. Nelson (click here). Access the statement from Sen. Johanns (click here). Access the State Department announcement (click here). Access complete details and background from the DOS Keystone XL Pipeline Project website (click here). [#Energy/Pipeline, #Energy/OilSands]