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The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at Project Vote Smart from our staff, interns, and volunteers.

A Vote Smart Guide to the Keystone XL Pipeline

2013 March 29

The Keystone XL Pipeline: it's been dominating headlines for what seems like forever. There have been a number of related speeches and protests, and passion exists on both sides of the issue. But what is it, and why does it matter?


The Keystone XL Pipeline is a proposed extension of the existing Keystone Pipeline. Keystone XL would run on the existing line from Alberta, Canada with the new extension going through Nebraska and on to the Gulf of Mexico. Like the existing pipeline, it would transport crude oil from both Canada and the United States. Though originally proposed in 2008, the project gained national attention in late 2011 when it came up for executive approval.


In November 2011, President Obama announced that he was directing the State Department to look into the feasibility of building the pipeline. Later that month, in a bill extending the payroll tax cut, Congress included language forcing the President to make a decision, either approving or denying the application, within 60 days.


Once those 60 days were up, the President ended up rejecting the pipeline. In his speech, he explained that the imposed deadline prevented a thorough review of the project's merits and drawbacks. But he made clear that was open to its approval in the future.


Congress has tried multiple times to allow the project to proceed without presidential approval. Two pieces of legislation included such language in 2012, though both failed to pass. One House bill sought to automatically grant the proper permits regardless of the ...

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Member Volunteer Spotlight: Ruth Kranovich

2012 July 30

 For more information on volunteering at the Great Divide Ranch, click here...

National Intern Spotlight: John Hogan

2012 July 03

We threw the spotlight on one of our returning interns, John, and asked him a few questions about his time, so far, here at the Great Divide Ranch...

Standing Your Ground Across The States

2012 June 12

The February 26 shooting of Trayvon Martin has ignited a media firestorm surrounding so-called “stand your ground” or “castle doctrine” laws in the United States. 

Comments on Unemployment Rate

2012 June 01

The US unemployment rate was published at 8.2% for the month of May, rising a tenth of a point from April's 8.1%. Here's what several congress members had to say about it...

March Common Ground E-Newsletter

2012 March 15

Sign-up now to receive a copy of this monthly publication. 

Going for broke: could GOP convention elect nominee?

2012 March 05

What if, following Super Tuesday, all four GOP candidates are still in the game and no clear frontrunner has emerged? 

Response from major parties following 'SuperCommittee' failure

2011 November 29

The inability of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, or 'Supercommittee', to come to an agreement to reduce the United States' government debt by over one trillion dollars has prompted a significant response by both Democrats and Republicans. 

'Supercommittee' misses deadline

2011 November 22

The U.S. Congress Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction was established with the goal of improving both the short and long term financial outlook of the US and reducing the deficit “...by at least $1,500,000,000 over the period of fiscal years 2012 to 2021” But they missed their deadline...