U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., along with 42 of their Senate colleagues today announced that they will introduce legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project under Congress' authority enumerated in the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8.
Isakson and Chambliss are original co-sponsors of the bill, which was spearheaded by Senators John Hoeven, R-N.D., Richard Lugar, R-Ind., David Vitter, R-La.
The legislation authorizes TransCanada to construct and operate the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to the U.S. Gulf Coast, transporting hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil per day to U.S. refineries, which includes 100,000 barrels a day from the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana. The bill allows the company to move forward with construction of the pipeline in the United States while the State of Nebraska works to determine an alternative route. Hoeven secured an opinion from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) confirming Congress's constitutional authority to approve the project.
The Keystone XL pipeline project has been under review for more than three years, but President Obama rejected it last week saying the 60-day provision authored by Lugar, Hoeven and Vitter included in the payroll tax cut extension bill passed in December didn't give him enough time to review the project. In fact, the Obama Administration spent 1,217 days reviewing the pipeline and there was no time limit on the State Department's ability to review the Nebraska portion of the project.
"Now, more than ever, our country needs leadership on energy security. Unfortunately, President Obama failed to provide leadership when he rejected the Keystone XL pipeline last week," said Isakson. "I am proud to join my colleagues in the Senate in rejecting the president's action by trying to move the Keystone XL pipeline forward. I will continue to do everything I can to support this critically important project, which will bring hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude to the U.S. from our strong ally Canada and at the same time, create thousands of American jobs."
"We simply cannot afford to delay approval of the Keystone pipeline permit any longer. Its construction will allow us to increase oil imports from Canada, a trusted ally and friend," said Chambliss. "By rejecting this permit, President Obama is putting his own re-election ahead of America's economy and energy security. After years of review and environmental evaluation, it's time to move forward on this project. This legislation will ensure we do just that."
The Keystone XL pipeline has been subject to rigorous environmental analysis for more than three years, and was on schedule to be decided on by the U.S. State Department by the end of 2011. By contrast, the original Keystone pipeline took two years to review and became operational last year.
The legislation builds off the completed Environmental Impact Statement, which was finished by the State Department on Aug. 26, 2011. Additionally, it requires the U.S. State Department to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) within 30 days with the State of Nebraska to assist in rerouting in that state, which will be subject to the Nebraska governor's agreement on the route within the state. However, it allows Nebraska all the time it needs to identify a new route within the state to strengthen the completed Environmental Impact Statement.
Further, the legislation requires strong environmental and safety requirements by incorporating the environmental and safety standards required and finalized by the Secretary of State. At the same time, the bill protects state and local laws relating to the protection of private property rights by ensuring those laws are not changed in this process.
In addition Senators Isakson, Chambliss, Hoeven, Lugar, and Vitter, original co-sponsors of the bill are Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), John Thune (R-S.D.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), John Boozman (R-Ark.) Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.); Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Patrick Toomey (R-Penn.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).