Senate passes tax cut extension with Keystone XL provision

The US Senate approved a bill that would extend the payroll tax cut into 2012 on Dec. 17 in a rare Saturday session, but with a provision that would require US President Barack Obama to act on the Keystone XL pipeline project’s cross-border permit application within 60 days of enactment. Democrats and others opposing the provision immediately warned that the strategy could backfire.

“By insisting on an expedited review of the Keystone pipeline that will not allow for sufficient consideration of public health and safety concerns, Republicans have effectively killed the project,” Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said following the 89-10 vote.

“The Republican stampede to build the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is going to backfire. In forcing President Obama to reach a hasty decision—which he has said he would not do,” added Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, director of the international program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a separate statement. “The president will have no choice but to reject the pipeline as not in the national interest.”

Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s ranking minority member who introduced a bill on Nov. 30 with a similar 60-day requirement, disagreed. “This is a tremendous victory for our security and for creating jobs,” he said following the Dec. 17 vote. “It is absolutely incredible that President Obama wants to delay a decision until after the 2012 elections apparently in fear of offending a part of his political base and even risking the ire of construction unions who strongly support the project.”

The American Petroleum Institute and other groups campaigned in the days leading up to the Senate’s vote for the administration to approve the Keystone XL permit application soon. “A nation that fails to secure the energy its citizens and its economic engine need to keep functioning leaves itself vulnerable to external contingencies in a dangerous and uncertain world and to the whims of foreign leaders and other actors who may not always have its interests at heart,” retired US Army Gen. Jim Jones, the Obama administration’s former national security advisor, told reporters during a Dec. 16 API teleconference with reporters.

‘A process at work’

White House Press Sec. Jay Carney refused at that day’s press briefing to go beyond Obama’s Dec. 8 promise to block any effort to include a Keystone XL pipeline project decision requirement or other unrelated provisions in legislation to extend the payroll tax cut. The US Department of State is conducting further reviews of the Keystone XL project’s cross-border application, he continued. “There is a process at work. I’m not going to analyze what language would be acceptable and what wouldn’t. I will let the process run its course,” Carney said.

At DOS’s Dec. 16 daily briefing, spokeswoman Victoria Nuland also refused to speculate about possible consequences of the Senate’s passing a bill with a provision requiring a Keystone XL decision within 60 days of enactment.

“We have been in the process of jumping through all the hoops…to determine whether this is in the national interest, including working with all of the states that are affected and…where the pipeline passes through,” she said. “Grave environmental concerns came up in Nebraska, and Nebraskans, including the Republican governor, urged us to look at an alternative route. So we want to do that right. We want to get the appropriate environmental impact study of that before we can make a national interest determination.”

Contact Nick Snow at

Related Articles

PHMSA issues state pipeline excavation damage prevention programs rule

07/14/2015 The US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a final rule to establish the process for evaluating state excavation damage p...

Halliburton, Baker Hughes agree to extend DOJ review of planned merger

07/13/2015 Halliburton Co. and Baker Hughes Inc. reached a timing agreement with the US Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division to extend DOJ’s review of H...

EIA’s estimates for state crude oil production to be helped by direct survey

07/13/2015 Understanding how crude oil production in US key states has been affected by recent changes in crude oil prices and drilling activity is of great i...

Russia’s Rosneft inks deal for stake in Indian refinery

07/13/2015 OAO Rosneft has entered a preliminary agreement to purchase as much as 49% interest in Essar Energy PLC subsidiary Essar Oil Ltd., including its 20...

MPLX, MarkWest to merge in $15.8 billion deal

07/13/2015 MPLX LP, a Findlay, Ohio-based master limited partnership (MLP) formed by Marathon Petroleum Corp. in 2012, and Denver-based MarkWest Energy Partne...

EPP completes acquisition of EFS Midstream

07/13/2015 Enterprise Products Partners LP (EPP) said it has completed the purchase of EFS Midstream LLC from Pioneer Natural Resources Co. and Reliance Holdi...

BLM proposes updates to its oil, gas measurement requirements

07/13/2015 The US Bureau of Land Management proposed regulations to ensure more accurate measurement, accountability, and royalty payments for oil and gas pro...

Watching Government: Western governors' concerns

07/13/2015 Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead (R) will focus primarily on the Endangered Species Act as the 2016 Western Governors' Association Chairman's Initiative, he ...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude oil prices down slightly pending Iran talk results

07/13/2015 US light, sweet crude oil prices settled down slightly July 10 on the New York market, ending a week in which the front-month contract saw its bigg...
White Papers

Definitive Guide to Cybersecurity for the Oil & Gas Industry

In the Oil and Gas industry, there is no single adversary and no single threat to the information tech...

UAS Integration for Infrastructure: More than Just Flying

Oil and gas companies recognize the benefits that the use of drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) c...

Solutions to Financial Distress Resulting from a Weak Oil and Gas Price Environment

The oil and gas industry is in the midst of a prolonged worldwide downturn in commodity prices. While ...
Sponsored by

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts

Better Data, Better Analytics, Better Decisions

When Tue, Oct 27, 2015

The Oil & Gas industry has large amounts of data stored in multiple systems which are purpose built for certain tasks. However, good decisions require insights based upon the data in all of these systems. These systems in turn do not talk to each other. So the process of analyzing data, gaining insights, and making decisions is a slow one and often a flawed one. Good decisions require accurate analytics and accurate analytics require superior/sustainable data quality and governance. This webinar focuses on:

  • The importance of data quality and governance
  • How technological advances are making data quality and governance sustainable in order to get the accurate analytics to make solid decisions.

Please join us for this webcast sponsored by Seven Lakes Technologies and Noah Consulting.


Operating a Sustainable Oil & Gas Supply Chain in North America

When Tue, Oct 20, 2015

Short lead times and unpredictable conditions in the Oil & Gas industry can create costly challenges in supply chains. By implementing a LEAN culture of continuous improvement you can eliminate waste, increase productivity and gain end-to-end visibility leading to a sustainable and well-oiled supply chain.

Please join us for this webcast sponsored by Ryder System, Inc.


On Demand

Leveraging technology to improve safety & reliability

Tue, Sep 22, 2015

Attend this informative webinar to learn more about how to leverage technology to meet the new OSHA standards and protect your employees from the hazards of arc flash explosions.


The Resilient Oilfield in the Internet of Things World

Tue, Sep 22, 2015

As we hear about the hype surrounding the Internet of Things, the oil and gas industry is questioning what is different than what is already being done. What is new?  Using sensors and connecting devices is nothing new to our mode of business and in many ways the industry exemplifies many principles of an industrial internet of things. How does the Internet of Things impact the oil and gas industry?

Prolific instrumentation and automation digitized the industry and has changed the approach to business models calling for a systems led approach.  Resilient Systems have the ability to adapt to changing circumstances while maintaining their central purpose.  A resilient system, such as Maximo, allows an asset intensive organization to leverage connected devices by merging real-time asset information with other critical asset information and using that information to create a more agile organization.  

Join this webcast, sponsored by IBM, to learn how about Internet of Things capabilities and resilient systems are impacting the landscape of the oil and gas industry.


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!


Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected