Congress: Get the Keystone XL Pipeline Up and Running

By:  Ann Shibler
02/02/2012
       
Congress: Get the Keystone XL Pipeline Up and Running

Congress has the constitutional authority to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS), a division of the Library of Congress, has very recently given a bit of a boost to newly introduced legislation that would get the Keystone XL Pipeline project moving. A  shovel-ready, jobs-creating project funded by TransCanada would bring crude oil safely and inexpensively from Alberta, Canada to Gulf Coast refineries. Senate Bill 2041 would “approve the Keystone XL pipeline project and provide for environmental protection and government oversight.” And respect for state and local laws, along with private property protection rights are built into the legislation. 

President Obama denied a permit to implement the pipeline proposal on January 18 saying the White House and State Department didn’t have enough time to review all the material and make a decision. However, an earlier Keystone project was approved and up and running in less time than the three years Obama has taken to reject this one. He continues to insist that he is committed to “American-made energy that creates jobs and reduces our dependence on oil.”  Which, if evaluated on face value, is not exactly an endorsement of the Keystone project.

A January 20 legal analysis by CRS attorneys stated that “[I]f Congress chose to assert its authority in the area of border crossing facilities, this would likely be considered within its constitutionally enumerated authority to regulate foreign commerce,” despite the fact that traditionally and historically, the executive branch has always handled “foreign affairs” alone.

Whether 20,000 jobs or 100,000 jobs will be created or positively affected, this country needs to keep the crude oil, which is still what America runs on, flowing in abundance, especially given the mounting war-like tensions in the Middle East. Also, if TransCanada is put off for too long, they will likely take their wares elsewhere.

There is another bill in the House that has some support but takes a different approach. H.R. 3548, the North American Energy Access Act would turn the permitting process for Keystone over to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. If FERC can’t decide in 30 days, Congress would get a crack at it. A FERC official already testified that 30 days isn’t enough time to make a “defensible decision." Besides, as a federal agency with commission members appointed by the President, would approval be given via the FERC route anyway? Or would this be delaying the project further until TransCanada just gives up and moves on?

Naturally, many extreme environmental groups oppose the project and are very adept at vocalizing and demonstrating their minority stance.  With 44 co-sponsors in the Senate, this important project needs a big push from the tax-paying, hard-working electorate to get the necessary 60 votes in the Senate. 

Is not an increased supply of readily useable, reliable energy in this nation’s best security interests? Help support S. 2041 to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline project and get the crude oil flowing. Contact your Representative and Senators with a pre-written message.

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