House members offer proposal to jump-start Keystone XL approval

US House Energy and Commerce Committee members released a discussion draft of legislation designed to jump-start approval of the proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline project. The draft bill by Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) would eliminate the need for a presidential permit and find that the Aug. 26, 2011, final environmental impact statement issued by Sec. of State Hillary Clinton satisfied all National Environmental Policy Act requirements.

Reps. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) and John Barrow (D-Ga.) cosponsored the proposal, which also would limit legal challenges to the project so it would not be delayed further. Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) also co-wrote the Mar. 4 draft.

The US Department of State released a draft supplemental environmental impact statement on Mar. 1, which found that the pipeline, including the revised Nebraska route, would have limited adverse environmental impacts. The review followed DOS’s initial analysis which lasted for more than three years and found the pipeline to be environmentally sound.

“It’s been over 4 years and thousands of pages of environmental reviews,” Terry said on Mar. 7. “The experts have weighed in. Now is the time to build the Keystone Pipeline. If we see further delays as we have in the past, Congress is ready to act. This discussion draft is part of that process.”

Environmental organizations immediately condemned the proposal. Jane Kleeb, executive director of BOLD Nebraska, said that Oil Change International’s Dirty Energy Money Database shows that Terry and the proposal’s four cosponsors average 400% more lifetime fossil fuel campaign contributions than the average US House member.

“The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline may not be in the best interests of his Nebraska constituents, but Rep. Terry and his Big Oil backers don’t seem to care,” Kleeb said on Mar. 8. “Terry makes it clear that money speaks louder than farmers, ranchers, and other Nebraskans who continue to voice their opposition to a toxic pipeline that will put our health and water at risk.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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