The Northern Route Approval Act

March 7, 2013

The Keystone XL pipeline is a $7 billion private-sector infrastructure project that will bring thousands of jobs and greater energy security to America, but this landmark jobs and energy project has been tied up in regulatory review for over four years. While President Obama has not yet approved the project, even with the Presidential Permit, construction of the pipeline will likely be further delayed due to additional regulatory hurdles and legal challenges. To clear away the roadblocks preventing construction of the pipeline, the Northern Route Approval Act:

  • Declares that no Presidential Permit shall be required for the pipeline application filed on May 4, 2012, by TransCanada Corporation for the northern portion of the Keystone XL pipeline from the Canadian border to Steele City, NE.
  • Deems the final environmental impact statement issued by the Secretary of State on August 26, 2011, to satisfy all requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and the National Historic Preservation Act. This also takes into consideration the Nebraska re-route evaluated in the Final Evaluation Report by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality in January 2013.
  • Includes a Judicial Review section that mirrors the language included in the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline Act that became law in 2004. The section gives exclusive jurisdiction to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, creates a 60 day deadline for filing a claim, and limits the challenges that can brought against the Keystone XL project in order to prevent unnecessary delays.
  • Addresses the challenges under the Endangered Species Act over the American burying beetle. The legislation deems the extensive environmental reviews that have been done for the Keystone XL project as satisfying requirements of the ESA and issues an incidental take permit for the American burying beetle for the construction and operation of the pipeline. This does NOT waive the ESA and it does not delist the American burying beetle from being a listed species under the ESA.
  • Grants a right-of-way and a temporary use permit across 42 miles of BLM land in Montana. The section cites the application that has been filed with BLM that contains environmental analysis and measures for this project and was developed in conjunction with State‚Äôs NEPA work.
  • Grants necessary permits under section 404 of the Clean Water Act and section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act for construction and operation of the pipeline and prohibits interference from EPA. This occurs no later than 90 days after an application is filed with the Army Corps of Engineers. It allows for the Secretary of the Army to set additional conditions and the discretion to waive procedures in order to comply with the deadline. If the Secretary does not act within the 90-day deadline, then the permits shall be considered issued.
  • Grants a special purpose permit under the Migratory Bird Act. The section cites an application that has been filed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that contains environmental analysis and actions that will be taken to minimize impacts from the project.

To view H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act, click here.

###