Bipartisan H.R. 3 Would Block President’s Latest Tactic to Kill Keystone

March 15, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – A report by Bloomberg indicates that President Obama is preparing to expand red tape under the National Environmental Policy Act to block important energy and infrastructure projects. According to Bloomberg, President Obama will soon tell federal agencies that they must consider climate change impacts under NEPA before approving major projects like pipelines, highways, and new leases for drilling and mining. Projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline – with its jobs and energy security – are the types of infrastructure initiatives that would be affected by this new policy directive. The pipeline has been tied up in regulatory review now for over four–and–a–half years and this latest directive from the president could further extend these delays for years to come.

Expanding NEPA review provides an open invitation for opposition groups to file lawsuits against projects like the pipeline in hopes of delaying construction of this type of jobs and energy project indefinitely. Even if the president does finally approve the permit, the pipeline could remain tied up in a web of endless litigation. Environmental groups promise additional lawsuits are certain if the president approves the pipeline.

Bipartisan legislation that Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) formally introduced today would help clear away these roadblocks and allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to finally commence. H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act, will address all the permits necessary beyond just presidential approval and limit litigation that could doom the project.

“Over 1,600 days ago, the initial permits were filed to apply to build the Keystone pipeline. To put that time frame in perspective, it took the United States just over 1,300 days to win World War II; and it took Lewis and Clark just over 1,100 days to walk the Louisiana Purchase,” said Terry. “The time is up. No more delays. It’s time to build the Keystone pipeline.”

"The president last year promised that he would do ‘whatever it takes’ to create jobs – but it seems he is doing whatever it takes to block this landmark jobs and energy security project," said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). "We are in a similar situation today as we were with the Trans-Alaska Pipeline back in the 1970s. That pipeline ultimately required congressional legislation to overcome opposition and I believe similar action is needed to get Keystone built. We already import 2.4 million barrels a day from Canada, more than half of which is from oil sands. There is no reason why we shouldn’t increase our access to this valuable North American oil supply. It’s time to say 'yes' to jobs and energy independence. It’s time to build the Keystone Pipeline."

Rep. Terry discussed this bipartisan plan to advance the Keystone XL pipeline at a press conference this morning along with Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), Chairman Upton, Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT), Rep. John Barrow (D-GA), and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL). Senators Hoven and Max Baucus (D-MT) yesterday introduced Keystone legislation in the Senate to approve the pipeline using Congressional authority.

For pictures from today’s press conference, click HERE.

For text of H.R. 3, click HERE.

For more information on H.R. 3, click HERE.

In case you Missed It…

Obama Will Use Nixon-Era Law to Fight Climate Change

President Barack Obama is preparing to tell all federal agencies for the first time that they have to consider the impact on global warming before approving major projects, from pipelines to highways.

The result could be significant delays for natural gas- export facilities, ports for coal sales to Asia, and even new forest roads, industry lobbyists warn. ….

In taking the step, Obama would be fulfilling a vow to act alone in the face of a Republican-run House of Representatives unwilling to pass measures limiting greenhouse gases. He’d expand a Nixon-era law that was intended to force agencies to assess the effect of projects on air, water and soil pollution.

“If Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will,” Obama said last month during his State of the Union address. He pledged executive actions “to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.” ….

If the new White House guidance is structured correctly, it will require just those kinds of lifecycle reviews, said Bill Snape, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity in Washington. The environmental group has sued to press for this approach, and Snape says lawsuits along this line are certain if the administration approves the Keystone pipeline, which would transport oil from Canada’s tar sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

“The real danger is the delays,” said Eisenberg of the manufacturers’ group. “I don’t think the answer is ever going to be ‘no,’ but it can confound things.”

Lawyers and lobbyists are now waiting for the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality to issue the long bottled-up standards for how agencies should address climate change under the National Environmental Policy Act, signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1970.

NEPA requires federal agencies to consider and publish the environmental impact of their actions before making decisions. Those reviews don’t mandate a specific course of action. They do provide a chance for citizens and environmentalists to weigh in before regulators decide on an action -- and to challenge those reviews in court if it’s cleared. …

The next target is TransCanada (TRP)’s application to build the 1,661-mile (2,673-kilometer) Keystone pipeline. The Sierra Club and 350.org drew 35,000 people to Washington last month to urge Obama to reject the pipeline. Meanwhile, the NEPA review by the State Department included an initial analysis of carbon released when the tar sands are refined into gasoline and used in vehicles.

It stopped short, however, of saying the project would result in an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. With or without the pipeline, the oil sands will be mined and used as fuel, the report said. That finding is likely to be disputed in court if the Obama administration clears the project.

“Keystone is ground zero,” said Snape, of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Clearly this will come into play, and it will be litigated.” …

Read the full article online HERE.

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