Friday, March 09, 2012

Despite Excessive Rhetoric Keystone XL Pipeline Moves Forward

Mar 8: As politicians continue to beat the Keystone XL pipeline "horse" to death, the Administration and TransCanada Corporation are continuing to proceed with the ultimate development of the project. With encouragement from the White House, TransCanada, the project developer continues to say that it is, "fully committed to the Keystone XL project and expects to place the pipeline in service by early 2015." It is interesting to note that while all parties involved are aware of this, there is a continuing misrepresentation by the parties and the media that the project has been permanently halted and the developer and Canada are pursuing new alternatives that will eliminate any energy resource, economic or jobs benefit to the U.S. will result in selling tar sand oil to China [See WIMS 2/28/12].
    Despite this reality, the political rhetoric was thick following last evening's vote on an amendment to "approve the pipeline and move forward construction" on the project. The amendment which required 60 votes for passage failed by a vote of 56 - 42 -- 11 Democrats also voted for the amendment. Reportedly, two additional Republican senators unable to vote, would have also supported the measure. The amendment, along with many others, is being proposed to S.1813, the transportation funding reauthorization bill, Moving Ahead for Progress for the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) [See WIMS 3/8/12].
    The operative part of the Keystone XL amendment (SA 1537), offered by Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) indicates, "Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no permit pursuant to Executive Order 13337 (3 U.S.C. 301 note) or any other similar Executive Order regulating construction, connection, operation, or maintenance of facilities at the borders of the United States, and no additional environmental impact statement, shall be required for TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P. to construct, connect, operate, and maintain the facilities described in paragraph (1). . ."
    Senator Hoeven said in a release, "In spite of congressional support, the Administration continues to block efforts to move forward on this project. It is disappointing that President Obama personally called senators to urge them to oppose this important amendment, which would enable the Keystone XL pipeline to move forward with all necessary environmental safeguards. This vote provides good momentum for our legislation. We'll continue working not only in the Senate, but also with our colleagues in the U.S House, where we have a good opportunity to include this amendment in their version of the Highway bill. With a majority of senators already voting in favor of our amendment, it would have strong support when the bill gets to conference committee." 
    U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) issued a statement on the amendment saying, "The Democrat-controlled Senate just turned its back on job creation and energy independence in a single vote by rejecting the bipartisan Hoeven-Lugar amendment. They rejected legislation that would have led to construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline and the thousands of private-sector jobs that come with it. At a moment when tensions are rising in the Middle East, millions of Americans are struggling to find work and millions more are struggling with the rising cost of gas, Democrat opposition to this legislation shows how deeply out of touch they are with the concerns of middle-class Americans. President Obama's personal pleas to wavering Senators may have tipped the balance against this legislation. When it comes to delays over Keystone, anyone looking for a culprit should now look no further than the Oval Office."
    At his weekly press briefing, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said President Obama owes the American people an explanation for "'personally lobbying' against the Keystone XL pipeline, and the 20,000 new American jobs it would create, and lobbying for sending North American energy to China." The Speaker said, ". . .by 'personally lobbying' against the Keystone pipeline, it means the President of the United States is lobbying for sending North American energy to China, and lobbying against American jobs.  So the president told the nation he supports an 'all-of-the-above' energy strategy that Republicans have long supported.  But his actions don't match his words. . ."
    While the heated rhetoric continues in Congress, on February 27, 2012, TransCanada Corporation announced it has sent a letter to the U.S. Department of State (DOS) informing the Department the company plans to file a Presidential Permit application (cross border permit) in the near future for the Keystone XL Project from the U.S./Canada border in Montana to Steele City, Nebraska. TransCanada said it would supplement that application with an alternative route in Nebraska as soon as that route is selected. The company also informed the DOS that what had been the Cushing [Oklahoma] to U.S. Gulf Coast portion of the Keystone XL Project has its own independent value to the marketplace and will be constructed as a stand-alone Gulf Coast Project, not part of the Presidential Permit process. The approximate cost is US$2.3 billion and subject to regulatory approvals. The company said it anticipates the Gulf Coast Project to be in service in mid to late 2013 [See WIMS 2/28/12]. At the same time, the White House issued an statement saying:
"The President welcomes today's news that TransCanada plans to build a pipeline to bring crude oil from Cushing, Oklahoma, to the Gulf of Mexico. As the President made clear in January, we support the company's interest in proceeding with this project, which will help address the bottleneck of oil in Cushing that has resulted in large part from increased domestic oil production, currently at an eight year high. Moving oil from the Midwest to the world-class, state-of-the-art refineries on the Gulf Coast will modernize our infrastructure, create jobs, and encourage American energy production. We look forward to working with TransCanada to ensure that it is built in a safe, responsible and timely manner, and we commit to take every step possible to expedite the necessary Federal permits.
"Separately, TransCanada gave the State Department advance notice of its intention to submit a new application for the cross-border segment of the Keystone XL pipeline, from Canada to Steele City, Nebraska, once a route through Nebraska has been identified. House Republicans forced a rejection of the company's earlier application in January, by not allowing sufficient time for important review or even the identification of a complete pipeline route. But as we made clear, the President's decision in January in no way prejudged future applications. We will ensure any project receives the important assessment it deserves, and will base a decision to provide a permit on the completion of that review."
    Another amendment was proposed by Democrats related to the Keystone XL project and was also defeated. Amendment SA 1817 proposed by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) would, "ensure the expeditious processing of Keystone XL permit applications consistent with current law, prohibit the export of crude oil produced in Canada and transported by the Keystone XL pipeline and related facilities unless the prohibition is waived by the President, and require the use of United States iron, steel, and manufactured goods in the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and related facilities with certain exceptions."
    Senator Hoeven issued a statement on the Democrats proposal saying, "The Democrats' amendment actually adds further impediments to the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline project. Not only does it require TransCanada to start over in the application process after more than three and half years -- just as the President's denial did -- but it also adds more restrictions which aren't workable. This makes it worse. . ." The amendment was defeated by a vote of 33-65.
    Access the Keystone XL pipeline amendment SA1537 (click here, scroll down). Access a release from Sen. Hoeven (click here). Access a release from Sen. McConnell (click here). Access a release from Speaker Boehner (click here). Access the TransCanada release (click here). Access the White House statement (click here). Access the White House press briefing transcript (click here). Access the TransCanada Keystone XL project website for additional information (click here). Access complete details and background from the DOS Keystone XL Pipeline Project website (click here). Access the Keystone XL pipeline amendment SA1817 (click here, scroll down). Access a release from Sen. Hoeven on SA1817 (click here). Access legislative details for S.1813 including links to amendments and roll call votes (click here). [#Energy/Pipeline, #Energy/KXL, #Energy/OilSands, #Energy/TarSands]
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