A report by Bloomberg indicates that President Obama is preparing to expand red tape under the National Environmental Policy Act to block important energy and infrastructure projects. According to Bloomberg, President Obama will soon tell federal agencies that they must consider climate change impacts under NEPA before approving major projects like pipelines, highways, and new leases for drilling and mining. Projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline -- with its jobs and energy security -- are the types of infrastructure initiatives that would be affected by this new policy directive. The pipeline has been tied up in regulatory review now for over four--and--a--half years and this latest directive from the president could further extend these delays for years to come.
Expanding NEPA review provides an open invitation for opposition groups to file lawsuits against projects like the pipeline in hopes of delaying construction of this type of jobs and energy project indefinitely. Even if the president does finally approve the permit, the pipeline could remain tied up in a web of endless litigation. Environmental groups promise additional lawsuits are certain if the president approves the pipeline.
Bipartisan legislation that Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) formally introduced today would help clear away these roadblocks and allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to finally commence. H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act, will address all the permits necessary beyond just presidential approval and limit litigation that could doom the project.
"Over 1,600 days ago, the initial permits were filed to apply to build the Keystone pipeline. To put that time frame in perspective, it took the United States just over 1,300 days to win World War II; and it took Lewis and Clark just over 1,100 days to walk the Louisiana Purchase," said Terry. "The time is up. No more delays. It's time to build the Keystone pipeline."
"The president last year promised that he would do "whatever it takes' to create jobs -- but it seems he is doing whatever it takes to block this landmark jobs and energy security project," said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). "We are in a similar situation today as we were with the Trans-Alaska Pipeline back in the 1970s. That pipeline ultimately required congressional legislation to overcome opposition and I believe similar action is needed to get Keystone built. We already import 2.4 million barrels a day from Canada, more than half of which is from oil sands. There is no reason why we shouldn't increase our access to this valuable North American oil supply. It's time to say 'yes' to jobs and energy independence. It's time to build the Keystone Pipeline."
Rep. Terry discussed this bipartisan plan to advance the Keystone XL pipeline at a press conference this morning along with Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), Chairman Upton, Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT), Rep. John Barrow (D-GA), and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL). Senators Hoven and Max Baucus (D-MT) yesterday introduced Keystone legislation in the Senate to approve the pipeline using Congressional authority.