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Senators pushing bill authorizing Keystone XL pipeline

WASHINGTON — Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss) have cosponsored legislation to authorize the construction of an energy pipeline between Canada and the Gulf Coast, a new effort to revive the major construction project following the Obama administration’s decision to halt it.

The Mississippi Senators are among 44 cosponsors of the legislation introduced that would authorize the Keystone XL pipeline project under authority granted to Congress through the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The new legislation was drafted in response to President Obama’s Jan. 18 decision to halt the pipeline construction permit due to his claim that it is not in the best interest of the nation.

Its primary sponsor is Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.).

“The Keystone XL pipeline has been reviewed for years and is ready to go.  If the President wants to shy away from an energy project with so many benefits for the country, then so be it. This legislation represents another way to try to move this venture forward,” Cochran said.

In a recent report, the Congressional Research Service confirmed the authority of Congress to authorize the pipeline under Commerce Clause, Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. The Senate measure was crafted around that constitutional authority, as well as an environmental impact statement completed in August 2011 by the U.S. Department of State after three years of environmental analysis.

In addition, the pipeline bill includes provisions to allow Nebraska to determine an alternative pipeline route through that state.  It also requires strong environmental and safety requirements, while protecting state and local laws regarding private property rights.

Congress had given President Obama until Feb. 21 to decide whether to allow the Keystone XL project to advance. The President rejected the permit, saying that the deadline did not give him sufficient time to review the project.

According to the senators, the proposed pipeline would transport more than 700,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada and the U.S. Bakken region to U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast in Texas. Tens of thousands of Americans jobs are projected to be created to build the 1,800-mile pipeline that will cost an estimated $7 billion. The Keystone XL pipeline remains the nation’s largest ready infrastructure project.


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