REPEATING HISTORY: Keystone XL – The Trans-Alaska Pipeline of our Time

May 21, 2013

The House will vote tomorrow on legislation to finally allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, a $7 billion private sector energy infrastructure project that will bring thousands of jobs and greater energy supplies to America. Rep. Lee Terry’s (R-NE) bill, H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act, will bypass the president’s delays by removing the need for a Presidential Permit. The legislation also includes several provisions to prevent additional regulatory hurdles and legal challenges. H.R. 3 would limit the judicial review process, satisfy all National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements, and streamline the permitting and approval process for all other necessary federal permits.

This is not the first time Congress has had to intervene to build a pipeline. Legislation was necessary forty years ago to achieve construction of the game-changing Trans-Alaska Pipeline after facing many of the same challenges as Keystone XL. Both pipelines faced litigation from environmental groups that would delay or block the projects, both projects underwent lengthy NEPA reviews, and both projects needed rights of way across federal lands. Congress ultimately had to intervene to cut the red tape and allow the Trans-Alaska pipeline to move forward, and now similar action is needed to build Keystone XL. In fact, many provisions of H.R. 3 are modeled after the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act. The House approved this historic piece of legislation in 1973 by a vote of 361-14, with Democrats voting 187-13 in favor of the measure. The Senate approved the conference report on the legislation 80-5, with 44 Democrats voting for it.

During markup of H.R. 3, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) explained, “This is not the first time Congress has debated a pipeline project held captive by federal red tape despite its great potential to create jobs and increase the supply of North American energy. Forty years ago, we faced a very similar situation with the Alaska pipeline. It took an act of Congress to break the bureaucratic impasse, limit the litigation, and achieve the Alaska pipeline’s construction, and now we must do the same for Keystone XL. H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act, will end the needless delays and finally allow construction of this landmark jobs and energy infrastructure project.”

To learn more about H.R. 3, click HERE.

To view a copy of the committee’s report, “A History Worth Repeating: The Alaska Pipeline and Its Lessons for Keystone XL,” click HERE.

###