Sen. Hoeven submits updated Keystone XL approval bill

US Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) submitted a fresh bill that would bypass the White House and congressionally approve the proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline’s cross-border permit. He said all 45 Senate Republicans support the bill, and he is working with Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.) to get enough Democrats on board for it to pass.

“Congress needs to make a decision because the administration has delayed making its decision indefinitely,” Hoeven said after filing the new bill on May 1. “Our legislation acknowledges the vital national interest this project represents on many levels. It will create thousands of jobs, boost our economy, help to reduce our reliance on Middle Eastern oil, and make our country more secure.”

Landrieu added, “The review process has been thorough. The five studies that have been conducted as required by law are complete. It is time to stop studying and start building.”

Hoeven said the updated bill formally recognizes the US Department of State’s final environmental impact statement on the project, which was released in January. It concluded the pipeline would not have a significant environmental impact or make any difference in development of Alberta’s oil sands, he indicated.

He also said the Congressional Research Service affirmed in 2012 that Congress has constitutional authority to approve Keystone XL under Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution’s commerce clause.

Majority Leader Harry Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) has resisted bringing earlier Keystone XL approval measure to the floor, but reportedly may allow one now if it’s part of a larger bill, such as one dealing with energy efficiency which has been stalled.

‘Excuses and delays’

Oil and gas industry and other association leaders applauded Hoeven’s latest move. “We need congressional action since the president’s only action has been excuses and delays,” American Petroleum Institute Pres. Jack N. Gerard said.

“We certainly hope that members of the Senate will not hide behind excuses of process since we have been at this for more than 5 years with five federal reviews stating the pipeline is safe to build and will create thousands of jobs,” he said.

Separately, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers Pres. Charles T. Drevna noted, “President Obama has proven time and again that he will employ any stall tactic to avoid advancement of the pipeline, even though there are absolutely no environmental reasons to do so.”

He said, “If after 1,927 days in office the president can’t make the only rational decision and approve the project, then Congress must act so that our nation can enjoy the benefits of an improved economy, the immediate creation of thousands of jobs, and enhanced national security that the pipeline will bring.”

Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers' International Union of North America, commended Hoeven and Landrieu for offering the new bill. “Americans deserve to know where their elected officials stand on this important energy infrastructure project,” he maintained.

“The needless delay of the pipeline has done nothing to stop development of Canadian oil sands crude but has put the safety of Americans at risk by forcing the oil onto other, more dangerous, methods of transporting energy resources,” he continued. “Continued fixation on the project also distracts from the pressing challenge of fighting for real solutions for global warming—comprehensive climate change legislation.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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