Nebraska Congressman Lee Terry, member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee authored draft legislation that would take the fate of the XL Keystone pipeline out of the hands of the president. The authors believe that four years of delays is enough.
The process of approving the XL Keystone pipeline, which would move Alberta heavy crude from Fort McMurray, Alberta to refineries in Texas has been held up for more than four years. Thousands of pages have been prepared with environmental impact statements and the project is being further delayed, with a decision not expected before August 2013.
"It's been over four years and thousands of pages of environmental reviews. The experts have weighed in. Now is the time to build the Keystone Pipeline,” said Terry. “If we see further delays as we have in the past; Congress is ready to act. This discussion draft is part of that process.”
Energy and Commerce Democrats Jim Matheson (D-UT) and John Barrow (D-GA) partnered with Rep. Terry to co-author the legislation that would allow construction of the pipeline to move forward.
“Construction of the Keystone XL pipeline is long overdue. This project creates thousands of high-paying, high-skilled jobs, and puts America on a long-term path to energy independence,” said Matheson and Barrow. “Multiple reviews by the Obama Administration indicate that this pipeline will have no significant environmental impacts. This delay is just playing politics with American jobs and American energy security, and it’s time to move forward with construction of the pipeline.”
President Obama rejected the project prior to the 2012 election, which is widely believed to have been a political decision. The rejection required that TransCanada, the Canadian company that will build project had to reapply. Obama's reason for the rejection were due to environmental concerns over the Nebraska Sandhills. The Nebraska legislature gave the go ahead to an alternate route and last week the US State Department released its draft environmental impact statement (DEIS).
As reported in Digital Journal, the report finds that the approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including this proposed project, really remains unlikely to significantly impact the rate of development of the oil sands, or the continued demand for heavy crude oil in the U.S.
The DEIS will now be published on the State Department website and has invited comments from interested parties and the general public. At the end of that period the final report will be compiled and Secretary of State John Kerry will make his recommendation to the president. Then the president will make the final decision.
Since there was already a final environmental impact statement (FEIS) issued on August 26, 2011, members of the House Energy Committee assert that this FEIS should satisfy the requirements and with their draft legislation intend to remove the last hurdles for approval.
The draft legislation, authored by Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE), will eliminate the need for a Presidential Permit and find that the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) issued by the Secretary of State on August 26, 2011, shall satisfy all NEPA requirements. The legislation also limits the legal challenges that can be brought against the project to prevent further unnecessary delays.
The Keystone XL pipeline is a $7 billion jobs and energy infrastructure project that has been tied up in regulatory review for over four years. Last week, the State Department released its draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS), which found that the pipeline, including the revised Nebraska route, would have limited adverse environmental impacts. This review follows the State Department’s initial analysis that lasted for more than three years and found the pipeline to be environmentally sound.
As the process lingers on, this has been the fourth legislation introduced by Congressman Terry. The House has voted to advance the approval of he pipeline a total of six times. While it will probably be approved in the House, it is not likely to be taken up by the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
The construction of the pipeline has been controversial to say the least. The Canadian government has been engaged in a campaign to convince the mainstream media to support the project, while the Premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan have been touting their provinces environmental records.
Alberta Premier Alison Redford has described Alberta as the the safest, most secure and responsible energy supplier to the U.S., Alberta applauds the U.S. Administration for the extensive, exacting and comprehensive review of potential environmental impacts from the project.
The fate of the pipeline is in the hands of Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama and the process will continue. Don't expect a decision either for or against prior to August.