For good reason, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate’s first order of business would be a vote to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Building the northern leg of the pipeline means jobs, economic growth and 830,000 barrels of oil per day from a friendly, reliable trading partner in Canada.
Even the Obama administration’s own State Department has determined on four occasions that the pipeline would pose minimal environmental risk and have virtually no effect on climate. It’s a slam dunk.
For absolutely no good reason, President Obama has issued a veto threat to any Keystone XL bill that reaches his desk.
“If this bill passes this Congress, the president wouldn’t sign it,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest Tuesday.
Earnest added that there is a “well-established process in place” for approving projects like Keystone XL. Perhaps Earnest should clarify to say there was a well-established process in place. The new process, compliments of the Obama administration, is to play kick-the-can-down-the-road….for more than six years.
Keystone XL Pipeline is just a portion of the larger Keystone Pipeline System. You can view a map of the entire system here. Any pipeline that crosses over the U.S.–Canadian border requires a review by the Department of State and a presidential permit. Unknown to many is the fact that the U.S. has already granted one of those presidential permits for the Keystone Pipeline System. For phase I of the Keystone Pipeline System, TransCanada filed an application with State in April 2006, and State began an environmental review in September 2006. TransCanada received its presidential permit for phase I in March 2008. From beginning to end, the process took 23 months. The pipeline is in operation and ships crude oil from Hardisty, Alberta, to Nebraska and then to Patoka, Ill. for refining. And it was permitted and built without all the hullaballoo from radical environmentalists.
We are in the 76th month since TransCanada first applied for a presidential permit in September 2008. Sixty percent of Americans support building Keystone XL. The Washington Post slammed the Obama administration’s continued delay of a Keystone XL decision, calling it “absurd” and “embarrassing.” President Obama’s former Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said,“The decision on whether the construction should happen was a political one and not a scientific one.”
Understanding the administration is merely catering to its environmental base, Congress has acted as well. Strong bipartisan majorities in the House have voted seven times to approve the pipeline, and both the House and Senate passed a measure to approve the pipeline in December 2011 before the president denied the permit for political reasons. Many senators on both sides of the aisle have written letters to Obama urging him to approve the pipeline permit, including every Senate Republican and 11 Democrats in the 113th Congress. As the letter from Senate Democrats explained, “This process has been exhaustive in its time, breadth, and scope [and] has already taken longer than anyone can reasonably justify.” It’s no surprise to see that the new Congress wants to send a strong signal to the administration it is serious about job creation, economic growth and moving forward sensible policy.
There’s one well-established roadblock to building Keystone XL. And he needs to get out of the way.