Monday, January 30, 2012

Senate Republican Bill To Approve Keystone XL Pipeline Project

Jan 30: U.S. Senators David Vitter (R-LA), John Hoeven (R-ND) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) and a total of 44 senators, including one Democrat, Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced that they will introduce legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project under Congress's authority enumerated in the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8. Senator Vitter said, "This new bill is a lot like the old one, but it makes it definitive that Congress has the authority to push the Keystone XL Pipeline forward. Everyone in Washington talks about saving the economy and creating jobs -- the Keystone XL project will actually do something about that. And it would be pure politics for the president not to support it."
    The legislation would authorize TransCanada to construct and operate the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to the U.S. Gulf Coast, transporting an additional 830,000 barrels of oil per day to U.S. refineries, which includes 100,000 barrels a day from the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana. The bill allows the company to move forward with construction of the pipeline in the United States while the State of Nebraska works to determine an alternative route. Senator Hoeven secured an opinion from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) which he said confirms Congress's constitutional authority to approve the project.

    The Keystone XL pipeline project has been under review for more than three years, but President Obama rejected it last week saying the 60-day provision authored by Lugar, Hoeven and Vitter included in the payroll tax cut extension bill passed in December didn't give him enough time to review the project [See WIMS 1/23/12]. In fact, the Obama Administration spent 1,217 days reviewing the pipeline and there was no time limit on the State Department's ability to review the Nebraska portion of the project.

     Senator Hoeven said, "Our legislation not only acknowledges the vital national interest this project represents on many levels, but also works in a bipartisan way to begin construction. It will create thousands of jobs, help control fuel prices at the pump and reduce our reliance on Middle East oil and it can be accomplished with congressional authority, just as the Alaska Pipeline was nearly 40 years ago. The reality is that if America doesn't build the Keystone project the Canadian oil will still be produced and shipped, but instead of being refined in the United States by American workers and benefiting American consumers, it will be shipped by tanker across the Pacific to China." Senator Lugar said, "The job creation, economic and energy security arguments are overwhelmingly in favor of building the pipeline. A majority of Americans support it. President Obama's opposition is not in the best interest of the United States. The President has failed to lead but we will not stop trying to complete this critical supply line."

    When the State department recommended the denial, President Obama issued a statement saying, ". . .the rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by Congressional Republicans prevented a full assessment of the pipeline's impact, especially the health and safety of the American people, as well as our environment. . . This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people. I'm disappointed that Republicans in Congress forced this decision, but it does not change my Administration's commitment to American-made energy that creates jobs and reduces our dependence on oil.:

    Russ Girling, TransCanada's (the project developer) president and chief executive officer said, "This outcome is one of the scenarios we anticipated. While we are disappointed, TransCanada remains fully committed to the construction of Keystone XL. Plans are already underway on a number of fronts to largely maintain the construction schedule of the project. We will re-apply for a Presidential Permit and expect a new application would be processed in an expedited manner to allow for an in-service date of late 2014."

    Noah Greenwald at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) said, "President Obama made the right decision when he rejected the Keystone XL pipeline. Republicans in Congress need to stop wasting precious time doing the bidding of Big Oil and address the climate crisis and create long-term jobs in a new, clean energy economy. Keystone XL would be an environmental disaster and create few permanent jobs in the process. Instead much of the oil will be exported — even as the pipeline deepens our dependence on the fossil fuels that are polluting our air, land and water and driving the global climate crisis."

    CBD indicated in a release that "Keystone XL would transport dirty tar-sands oil 1,700 miles across six states and hundreds of water bodies, posing an unacceptable risk of spill. An existing pipeline called Keystone 1 has already leaked 14 times since it started operating in June 2010, including one spill that dumped 21,000 gallons of tar-sands crude. The pipeline would directly threaten at least 20 imperiled species, including whooping cranes. Extraction and refinement of tar-sands oil produces two to three times more greenhouse gases per barrel than conventional oil and represents a massive new source of fossil fuels that leading climate scientist Dr. James Hansen has called 'game over' for our ability to avoid a climate catastrophe. Strip mining of oil from Alberta's tar sands is also destroying tens of thousands of acres of boreal forest and polluting hundreds of millions of gallons of water from the Athabasca River, in the process creating toxic ponds so large they can be seen from space."

    On the House side, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said on ABC's "This Week"  "If it's not enacted before we take up the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, it'll be part of it [i.e. Keystone pipeline bill]." The House is expected to consider the American Energy Infrastructure Jobs Act (set to be H.R.7), which would link new American energy production to high-priority infrastructure projects.  Instead of more 'stimulus' spending or wasteful earmarks, the bill would permanently remove government barriers to American energy production and use the revenues to repair and improve America's roads and bridges – both of which support long-term job growth. Speaker Boehner also said there will be no earmarks in legislation which he indicated "the House will soon vote on that permanently removes government barriers to energy production to help create thousands of private-sector jobs, lower gas prices, and repair our roads and bridges."

    On February 1, the Natural Resources Committee will hold a Full Committee markup on the energy portion of the American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act, legislation to link new American energy production with high-priority infrastructure projects. The bill will remove government barriers to American energy production, creating over a million new American jobs, lowering gasoline prices, and helping repair our roads and bridges – with no earmarks. The energy portion includes: expanded Offshore Energy Production (H.R. 3410, Energy Security and Transportation Jobs Act); Opening less than 3 percent of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska to responsible energy development (H.R. 3407, Alaskan Energy for American Jobs Act); and increasing oil shale development by setting clear rules for the development of U.S. oil shale resources and promoting shale technology research and development (H.R. 3408, Protecting Investment in Oil Shale the Next Generation of Environmental, Energy, and Resource Security Act).

    Access a release from the Senators with a list of cosponsors and additional background (click here). Access a release from CBD (click here). Access a statement from Speaker Boehner and link to an overview of H.R.7 (click here). Access a report in The Hill re: the House consideration of the Keystone XL project (click here). Access the statement from the President (click here). Access a release on the House Natural Resources Committee meeting (click here). Access the Presidential Memorandum (click here). Access the release from TransCanada (click here). Access complete details and background from the DOS Keystone XL Pipeline Project website (click here).  [#Energy/Pipeline, #Energy/KXL, #Energy/OilSands, #Energy/TarSands]

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