House panels discuss Terry’s Keystone XL authorization bill

A second US House subcommittee heard testimony in support of a bill to let Congress approve the proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline project as the first, which held a hearing on Rep. Lee Terry’s (R-Neb.) measure on Apr. 10, marked up HR 3 for consideration by the full Energy and Commerce Committee.

“The reliable supply of heavy crudes from Canada will result in lower refining costs and more efficient refinery operations, contributing to a viable and much more stable refining structure throughout the US economy,” American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers Pres. Charles T. Drevna said on Apr. 16.

“This steady source of oil will serve to reduce US refiners’ exposure to volatility in unstable foreign regions, mitigate upward price pressures and keep domestic refiners competitive in a global marketplace,” Drevna told the Natural Resources Committee’s Energy and Minerals Subcommittee.

Ross Eisenberg, vice-president for energy and resources policy at the National Association of Manufacturers, said Keystone XL has been waiting for final authorization for more than 5 years—3 years longer than the original Keystone pipeline needed to secure its permit in 2008, even though it was double Keystone XL’s size and crossed twice as many states.

“HR 3 ends the interminable delays for Keystone XL and approves the project,” he said. “It deems the National Environmental Policy Act complete and removes the requirement that the project receive a presidential permit. It sets forth a reasonable deadline for filing a lawsuit to challenge the permit and expedites judicial review.”

‘Busy as we speak’

Jeffrey Soth, assistant legislative director for the International Union of Operating Engineers, said thousands of IOUE’s 400,000 members operate heavy equipment and hope to work on Keystone XL. “In fact, hundreds of members of the Operating Engineers are busy building the Gulf Coast project, TransCanada’s 500-mile pipeline from Cushing, Okla., to Port Arthur, Tex., as we speak,” he noted.

Soth said the US State Department’s new draft supplemental environmental impact statement for the project’s northern route said an estimated 10,000 construction jobs would be created if that 1,200-mile stretch is built. “At a time when unemployment in the construction sector hovers around 15%, these jobs are a lifeline for thousands of construction workers,” he maintained.

A fourth witness—Stephen M. Kretzman, founder and executive director of Oil Change International—said his organization and others in the environmental, labor, human rights, and faith communities believe Terry’s bill, and ultimately the entire Keystone XL project, should be rejected.

Kretzman said while the project’s supporters say heavy crude moving through Keystone XL would be processed at US Gulf Coast refineries, those plants have been increasing their product exports instead of selling products domestically. “It is now clear that the Keystone XL pipeline is a pipeline through the United States, not to the United States,” he declared.

OCI also issued a report, “Cooking the Books: The True Climate Impact of Keystone XL,” on Apr. 16 in collaboration with seven other environmental organizations. Meanwhile, the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Energy and Power Subcommittee voted 17 to 9 to move HR 3 on to the full committee.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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