Thursday, May 23, 2013

House GOP Approves Keystone XL Pipeline Bill (HR3)

May 22: The U.S. House of Representatives passed The Northern Route Approval Act (H.R. 3) by a vote of 241-175. The bill, sponsored by Representative Lee Terry (R-NE) would approve the construction, operation, and maintenance of the Keystone XL pipeline and eliminate the requirement for a Presidential permit. Nineteen Democrats joined 222 Republicans to pass the bill. No Republicans voted against it. Rep. Terry issued a statement saying:
"When the President went to a manufacturing facility to promote his executive order designed to expedite the federal permitting process; he highlighted how significant delays hamper job creation.  So it's timely the House today passed my legislation to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. Congress wouldn't have acted without all of the bureaucratic tricks and delays holding back this important project. It's been over 1,700 days since the initial permits were filed. That's longer than it took the Greatest Generation to win WWII and longer than it took Lewis and Clark to walk the Louisiana Purchase and back. If signed into law, it's estimated that my legislation will create up to 20,000 new jobs directly related to the construction of the Keystone Pipeline and another 120,000 indirect jobs will be created for companies like the one the President visited last week.

"I came to Congress because I want to make America energy independent with an all-of-the-above energy strategy and end our dependence on oil from OPEC nations whose interests aren't always our interests.  This bill strengthens the relationship with our country's largest trading partner who I believe much rather do business with America rather than with the Chinese.It's taken five years and 15,000 pages of environmental reviews to get to this point.  Despite all of the delays, the President's own State Department has said that there are no significant impacts to the environment for this project.

"Some say that my legislation can't become law because it won't pass the Senate. But earlier this year, the Senate voted with a filibuster-proof majority urging the construction of this important infrastructure project. Senator Reid should listen to the 70 percent of Americans who want cheaper gas prices; energy independence; and, the jobs that will be created when my legislation is signed into law and immediately consider this bill for an up-or-down vote. Our nation of builders needs these jobs. I thank my colleagues for their support today because it's time to build the Keystone XL Pipeline."

    Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and a strong opponent of the project spoke on the House Floor prior to the vote and said:

"Today, the House Republicans are making the fourth attempt in two years to grant special treatment to TransCanada's Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.  That's what happens when you let the oil companies set the agenda. Rather than tackling the real problems facing American families, we're passing legislation to exempt a foreign company from the rules that every other company in America has to follow.  And of course last week, we voted for the thirty-seventh time to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  We're trampling our rule of law to speed Canada's dirty tar sands oil to the Gulf, where it can be refined and sent to other countries tax-free.  That's great for tar sands developers and refiners, like the Koch brothers and Valero.    

"But this bill will hurt American families.  It won't lower gas prices by a single penny; it may even raise them.  It will lock us into more global warming and risk our farmlands and our water supplies. No wonder Americans are cynical about Congress. I oppose the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline because it will worsen climate change. Keystone XL will lock the United States into decades of dependence on dirtier tar sands crude, reversing the carbon pollution reductions we have been working so hard to accomplish.  Experts tell us that building Keystone XL will triple production of the tar sands.  And that's simply not consistent with any future scenario for avoiding catastrophic climate change. 

"We don't need it.  We have our own sources of oil here in the United States.  And we're using less oil because of our efficiency in new cars that are getting better mileage. I oppose this bill for these reasons.  But even if you support the pipeline, you should oppose this bill. H.R. 3 is an extreme bill.  It grants a regulatory earmark to TransCanada, exempting it from all environmental requirements. It's also unnecessary.  The State Department is carrying out their review of this highly controversial project. H.R. 3 would approve the pipeline by fiat, lock out the public, eliminate the President's authority to balance competing interests, and stop federal agencies from ensuring that if the project does go forward, we do it as safely as possible. The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is a bad deal for America.  We get all the risks, while the oil companies reap the rewards.  But even if you support it, this bill is harmful and unnecessary.  I urge my colleagues to vote no on H.R. 3."

    Republican Members of the Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee voiced their strong support for building the Keystone pipeline during the debate on the House floor. They listed a broad range of diverse organizations representing American workers and job creators have lent their support to this commonsense bill. Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) reminded that similar legislation was needed 40 years ago to achieve construction of the game-changing Trans-Alaska Pipeline. He said, "This is not the first time Congress has debated a pipeline project held captive by federal red tape despite its great potential to create jobs and increase the supply of North American energy. Forty years ago, we faced a very similar situation with the Alaska pipeline. It took an act of Congress to break the bureaucratic impasse, limit the litigation, and achieve the Alaska pipeline's construction, and now we must do the same for Keystone XL. H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act, will end the needless delays and finally allow construction of this landmark jobs and energy infrastructure project."
    On March 1, 2013, the Department of State (DOS) posted a copy of the Environmental Resources Management (ERM) contract and organizational conflicts of interest disclosures. March 8, 2013, U.S. EPA announced the availability of the Draft SEIS on its website. On April 22, 2013, the comment period on the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement closed. DOS is now reviewing the comments and will make revisions to the Draft SEIS as appropriate. Next, DOS will seek the views of other agencies identified in Executive Order 13337, and make a determination as to whether issuance of a Presidential Permit for the Keystone XL pipeline would serve the national interest. The Department intends to provide an additional opportunity for the public to comment during the National Interest Determination (NID) period that will begin with the release the Final SEIS. On May 15, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued their Biological Opinion for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline to the Department, which was prepared consistent with the Endangered Species Act.
    The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) indicated that more than 1 million comments from Americans requested that the State Department reject Keystone XL.  "Given the anti-environmental makeup of this Congress, the Terry bill was expected to pass by a wide margin, but numbers like these obviously made lawmakers take note.  As NWF president and CEO Larry Schweiger said about the KXL pipeline: "It's the wrong approach to put a foreign energy company ahead of more than 1 million Americans who have expressed concern for our nation's wildlife, energy security and public health." NWF warned, "The risks of Keystone XL are huge; the reward is 35 permanent jobs in exchange for higher gas prices, oiled wildlife and communities, and another step towards climate calamity."
    The American Petroleum Institute (API) President and CEO Jack Gerard welcomed the House approval of H.R. 3 and said, "This pipeline is clearly in the national interest and most Americans agree. Thousands of folks have joined pro-KXL rallies across the country, public polls show robust support for the project and bipartisan backing remains strong in Congress. After four comprehensive federal reviews and a Nebraska review, the analysis is unwavering: Keystone XL is environmentally sound, a safe method of acquiring the energy our country needs, and strengthens our ties to an important ally. Denying this pipeline would be another blow to thousands of out-of-work Americans and our nation's energy security. We need the pipeline approved now. The ongoing Keystone XL delay has sent a signal to all Americans that jobs and energy security are not a priority to some in government. However, we have bipartisan leadership on Capitol Hill; we just need leadership from the president to help our fellow citizens get back to work."    
    Access a release from Rep. Terry (click here). Access a release and video from Rep. Waxman (click here). Access a release and video from GOP E&C members including a list of supporting groups and Alaska Pipeline comparison (click here). Access the DOS Keystone XL website for complete background and links to documents (click here). Access a release from NWF with links to related information (click here). Access a release from API (click here). Access legislative details for H.R.3 including the roll call vote (click here). [#Energy/KXL]
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