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 ...