Wednesday, November 30, 2011

GOP Senators' Bill Would Force Decision On Keystone XL In 60 Days

Nov 30: U.S. Senators introduced legislation to force the Obama Administration to issue a construction permit for the Keystone XL pipeline in 60 days. Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN), the lead sponsor of the bill said, "Jobs will be created right away and billions of dollars in investment will be unleashed through legislation introduced to permit the $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline, the largest infrastructure project ready in the United States, to commence construction. This is no time for delay." Additional lead cosponsors are John Hoeven (R-ND) and David Vitter (R-LA) and 34 other Senate Republicans are cosponsoring the bill
    Senator Lugar continued, "Building the TransCanada Keystone pipeline NOW is a dramatic opportunity to change that energy and national security equation. At the same time, we have a dramatic opportunity to create American jobs NOW! Job creation is the number one issue in our nation. The Keystone XL pipeline is the largest infrastructure project ready, NOW, for construction in the United States. President Obama has the opportunity of creating 20,000 new jobs NOW. Incredibly, he has delayed a decision until after the 2012 election apparently in fear of offending a part of his political base and even risking the ire of construction unions who support the pipeline." [emphasis in original]
    According to a release, the North American Energy Security Act [no bill number yet] would: Create 20,000 direct jobs in building the pipeline and manufacturing; Reduce need for foreign oil from volatile regions by increasing secure trade with Canada and encouraging production in the U.S. Bakken area; and Boost more than 1,400 U.S. companies that directly sell their products and services for oil sands production and transport.
    Additionally, the $7 billion pipeline cost to be paid by the Keystone XL consortium will fund nearly half a billion dollars in salaries and purchase $6.5 billion worth of materials, services, and other local economic activity. Over time, strengthening U.S.-Canada oil sands energy cooperation can create hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs. Trade with Canada will accelerate America's independence from overseas oil and will maximize benefits to complement increased U.S. domestic oil production, usage of more alternative fuels, and vehicle innovation to save fuel and dollars at the gas pump.
    The legislation being referred to as the "Lugar-Hoeven-Vitter KXL" bill: Establishes Congressional affirmation that Keystone XL is good for job creation, economic growth, and national security; Requires the Secretary of State to issue a permit within 60 days to allow the Keystone XL project to move ahead, unless the President publicly determines that it is not in the national interest; Requires the permit for Keystone XL to contain strong and specific environmental protections and protect states' rights;
Requires the Federal permit to recognize an alternative route approved by Nebraska, protecting their ability to shift the route of the pipeline to avoid the Sand Hills while not holding up construction elsewhere; and Concludes more than three years of Federal review by deeming the Final Environmental Impact Statement to be adequate.
    On November 10, the State Department announced that it had determined it was necessary to 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 [See WIMS 11/14/11 & WIMS 11/11/11].
    The American Petroleum Institute (API) expressed immediate support for the North American Energy Security Act. Marty Durbin API executive vice president issued a statement saying, "Delaying Keystone XL is denying thousands of Americans good paying jobs. We need to do what we can to address high unemployment and strengthen our nation's energy security. Keystone XL is capable of doing both. The project will immediately create 20,000 American jobs and enhance our energy security because we will be getting more oil from our number one supplier of imported oil, Canada. We applaud Senator Lugar's efforts to move forward a job creating project that has already undergone an extensive environmental review. . . President Obama should approve it and make it part of his jobs program because, as he has said, 'we can't wait'."
    Access a lengthy release from Sen. Lugar with extensive comments from cosponsoring Senators and background (click here). Access the full text of the bill, a summary, a video of today's press conference and additional information (click here). Access complete details and background from the DOS Keystone XL Pipeline Project website (click here). Access a release from API (click here). [#Energy/Pipeline, #Energy/OilSands]