A group of Energy and Commerce Committee members today unveiled new legislation designed to expedite construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) authored the bipartisan legislation, which calls for the approval of construction and operation of the northern portion of the pipeline from the Canadian border to the South Dakota/Nebraska border. The bill will allow work to immediately commence on the northern segment while still protecting the on-going review of the interstate portion in Nebraska.
Last month, the State Department announced plans for an additional environmental review that would apply to the entire northern route of the pipeline, all 1179 miles, rather than limiting the review solely to the 88 miles of re-route through the state of Nebraska. This review follows the State Department's exhaustive analysis that lasted for more than three years, which found the proposed pipeline to be environmentally sound. To overcome the administration's delay tactics, Rep. Terry's bill eliminates the need for a presidential permit to begin construction on the northern portion and finds that the final environmental impact statement issued by the Secretary of State on August 26, 2011 shall satisfy all NEPA requirements.
President Obama traveled to Cushing, Oklahoma this spring to endorse the southern leg of the pipeline, telling the pro-energy crowd, "The southern leg of it, we're making a priority." Rep. Terry's bill will ensure that entire project is a national priority.
"All I am saying with my legislation is "Mr. President, please treat the northern portion of the pipeline in the same manner as you treated the southern portion. You praised the construction for the southern route but keep changing the rules for the part that crosses the border.' We need consistency but more importantly, we need to take the politics out of the debate," said Terry.
House Republicans continue to push for timely construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to ensure the U.S. does not lose out on the jobs and energy security offered by the pipeline to countries like China. As a result of President Obama's delay, Canadian officials have warned U.S. lawmakers that they are now looking for other buyers for their rich oil supplies. Those warnings are now becoming reality. Today's Wall Street Journal reports China's Cnooc will acquire the Canadian company Nexen, a significant player in the Canadian oil sands market. While the president continues to put Keystone on the backburner, China is looking to buy its way into energy security with an eye on North American energy supplies. Each day the president delays the pipeline, he is putting American jobs and our energy security at risk.
This is the third piece of legislation introduced by Rep. Terry to advance construction of the job-creating Keystone XL pipeline. Last July, the House passed the North American-Made Energy Security Act, giving the president a deadline of November 1, 2011 to issue a decision on the pipeline's Presidential Permit. After the president rejected the permit, Rep. Terry introduced the North American Energy Access Act to remove the president's authority over the pipeline. The House has now voted a total of six times to allow for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which is estimated to create over 20,000 direct jobs and carry nearly a million additional barrels per day of secure Canadian oil supplies to U.S. refineries.