A group of 45 Senate lawmakers —all but one of whom are Republicans—is attempting to revive the Keystone XL crude-oil pipeline project, which President Obama nixed last month.
Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and five co-sponsors, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), introduced an amendment on Feb. 13 to the pending highway-transit bill that would allow the $7-billion project to advance. But the amendment faces considerable opposition from Democratic lawmakers and environmental advocates.
The State Dept. said on Jan. 18 that it did not have enough time to meet a congressionally mandated deadline to review the project's environmental impact. As a result, it denied a permit to Calgary, Alberta-based TransCanada to build the pipeline, which would stretch from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico.
The amendment would let the company move forward with the pipeline while the state of Nebraska works to determine an alternative route to the original one, which environmental groups said would harm the state's ecologically sensitive Sandhills region.
But McConnell said, "The president said recently that he was for an 'all of the above' approach to energy, yet he rejected the one bipartisan energy project that is shovel-ready and can produce thousands of new jobs almost immediately."
In the House, Lee Terry (R-Neb.) has introduced an amendment to its version of the transportation bill. Terry's proposal would require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve the project within 30 days.
Meanwhile, controversy over the project continues. Some in Congress have raised concerns about a potential conflict of interest concerning Cardno Entrix, the firm selected to carry out the environmental impact statement for the State Dept. Houston-based Cardno Entrix has ties to TransCanada.
But an audit that the State Dept.'s acting inspector general released on Feb. 9 concluded that the relationship between the two companies was not a conflict of interest. In addition, the IG report recommended that the State Dept. should change its process for selecting contractors in the future. ›