Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) has sponsored legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project under Congress’s authority enumerated in the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8. The bill allows TransCanada to move forward with construction of the pipeline in the United States while the state of Nebraska works to determine an alternative route. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has confirmed Congress’s constitutional authority to approve the project.
“Our country cannot afford to further delay long-term energy security, and unemployed Americans with the skills to construct this important project should not be forced to wait any longer,” Sen. Moran said. “The Obama Administration has already spent three years reviewing the Keystone XL permit and conducting two comprehensive environmental evaluations of the project. Furthermore, the Canadian government has made it clear they will pursue other markets if this project cannot be completed. This legislation would put Americans to work now and provide an opportunity to grow local, state and national economies while taking a vital step toward energy security.”
The legislation authorizes TransCanada to construct and operate the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to the U.S. Gulf Coast, transporting an additional 830,000 barrels of oil per day to U.S. refineries. The project has been under review for more than three years, but President Obama rejected it last week saying the 60-day-decision provision included in the payroll tax cut extension bill passed in December did not give him enough time to review the project. In fact, the Obama Administration has spent 1,217 days – more than three years – reviewing the pipeline and there was no time limit on the State Department’s ability to review the Nebraska portion of the project.
By contrast, the original Keystone pipeline took two years to review and became operational last year. The original Keystone pipeline already moves crude oil from Steele City, Nebraska to the processing facility in Cushing, Oklahoma. The Keystone XL pipeline would utilize this existing infrastructure to safely move crude through Kansas. As the ongoing operation of the original Keystone pipeline illustrates, crude oil can be moved safely over long distances when appropriate application of stringent construction specifications are met.
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.
Furthermore, 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.