Senate follows House with Keystone XL jump-start bill

US Sens. John Hoeven (R-ND) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said they will introduce legislation to bypass the White House and federally approve the proposed Keystone crude oil pipeline’s cross-border permit. Their Mar. 14 announcement came a week after House Energy and Commerce Committee members released a similar proposal (OGJ Online Mar. 11, 2013).

Hoeven, who is an Energy and Natural Resources Committee member, secured an opinion in 2012 from the Congressional Research Service that Congress has authority to approve the project under Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution’s commerce clause.

“The [US Department of State’s] favorable finding in its most recent report makes clear both the good environmental stewardship of the project and the need to begin construction without further delay,” he declared.

The proposed 1,700-mile pipeline from Alberta’s oil sands to US Gulf Coast refineries would transport 830,000 b/d of crude oil, including 100,000 b/d from the Bakken formation in Montana and North Dakota, according to the senators.

“This is about one simple thing: jobs,” said Baucus, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee. “At a time when job creation must be our No. 1 priority, approving the Keystone Pipeline is the perfect opportunity to put Montanans, and folks across the country, to work right now. American workers cannot afford to wait any longer for Keystone jobs, and there is absolutely no excuse for further delay.”

A draft bill circulated by Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) on Mar. 7 would eliminate the need for a presidential permit and find that the Aug. 26, 2011, final environmental impact statement issued by then-Sec. of State Hillary R. Clinton satisfied all National Environmental Policy Act requirements.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), and committee members Jim Matheson (D-Utah) and John Barrow (D-Ga.) cosponsored the proposal, which also would limit legal challenges aimed at delaying the project further.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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