WASHINGTON, D.C.--Senator John Thune today joined Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), David Vitter (R-La.), and a total of 44 senators to announce that they will introduce legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project under Congress' authority enumerated in the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8. The bipartisan group of senators committed to working together to advance this critical project for the United States. Hoeven, Lugar, Vitter and the other senators have been working with colleagues in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to ensure that this vital project is advanced.
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, which includes 100,000 barrels a day from the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana. The bill allows the company to move forward with construction of the pipeline in the United States while the state of Nebraska works to determine an alternative route. Hoeven secured an opinion from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) confirming Congress's constitutional authority to approve the project.
"The Keystone XL pipeline will create 20,000 immediate jobs and we ought to move this project forward to put Americans back to work and make our country less dependent on oil from the Middle East," said Thune. "Our bipartisan bill will ensure that Congress has the authority to approve this job-creating project and end its unnecessary delay."
The Keystone XL pipeline project has been under review for more than three years, but President Obama rejected it saying the 60-day provision authored by Lugar, Hoeven, and Vitter included in the payroll tax cut extension bill passed in December didn't give him enough time to review the project. In fact, the Obama Administration spent 1,217 days reviewing the pipeline and there was no time limit on the State Department's ability to review the Nebraska portion of the project.
"Our legislation not only acknowledges the vital national interest this project represents on many levels, but also works in a bipartisan way to begin construction," Hoeven said. "It will create thousands of jobs, help control fuel prices at the pump and reduce our reliance on Middle East oil and it can be accomplished with congressional authority, just as the Alaska Pipeline was nearly 40 years ago. The reality is that if America doesn't build the Keystone project the Canadian oil will still be produced and shipped, but instead of being refined in the United States by American workers and benefiting American consumers, it will be shipped by tanker across the Pacific to China."
"The job creation, economic and energy security arguments are overwhelmingly in favor of building the pipeline. A majority of Americans support it. President Obama's opposition is not in the best interest of the United States. The President has failed to lead but we will not stop trying to complete this critical supply line," Lugar said.
"This new bill is a lot like the old one, but it makes it definitive that Congress has the authority to push the Keystone XL Pipeline forward," said Vitter. "Everyone in Washington talks about saving the economy and creating jobs - the Keystone XL project will actually do something about that. And it would be pure politics for the president not to support it."
The Keystone XL pipeline has been subject to rigorous environmental analysis for more than three years, and was on schedule to be decided on by the U.S. State Department by the end of 2011. By contrast, the original Keystone pipeline took two years to review and became operational last year.
The Hoeven-Lugar-Vitter 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.
Further, 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.
In addition to Senators Hoeven, Lugar, and Vitter, other original cosponsors of the bill are Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), John Thune (R-S.D.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), John Boozman (R-Ark.) Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.); Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Patrick Toomey (R-Penn.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).