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Daniel J. Graeber

Daniel J. Graeber

Daniel Graeber is a writer and political analyst based in Michigan. His work on matters related to the geopolitical aspects of the global energy sector,…

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Is the Political Fight Over Keystone XL Over?

A bill passed in a House energy committee aims to amend the rules for cross-border energy projects, suggesting the political fight over Keystone XL is over.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved resolution 3301, the so-called North American Energy Infrastructure Act. Authored by Reps. Fred Upton, R-Mich., and Gene Green, D-Texas, the bill aims to do away with the current processes for approving electrical, gas and oil infrastructure that would cross the U.S. border with Mexico or Canada.

"No one can rightfully argue that the current presidential permit process is not broken," Upton said in a May 8 statement.

A presidential permit is needed for cross-border projects and it's been more than five years since pipeline company TransCanada submitted its application for the Keystone XL pipeline. Since then, the company constructed and started service at its 485-mile Gulf Coast pipeline from Cushing, Okla., considered the U.S. leg of the pipeline.

Keystone XL itself would extend more than 1,100 miles from Alberta to Nebraska before it connected to existing links to Cushing. Designed to deliver oil sands, the pipeline has become the scapegoat not only for environmentalists, but for policymakers on both sides of the U.S. energy debate.

U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu, chairwoman of the Senate Energy Committee, drafted a bill with Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., that would advance Keystone XL. Landrieu said May 1 it's time to stop debating the project and move ahead with construction.

"This pipeline is clearly in our national interest, and I urge all senators to join Sen. Hoeven and me to support this bill," she said.

Bipartisan bickering over procedural voting issues, however, left the bill dead on the Senate floor.

Related Article: White House Delays Keystone XL Decision Until Nebraska Legal Challenge Settled

In April, the U.S. State Department said the federal agencies in charge of the permitting process needed more time because of legal issues related to the route through Nebraska. A state court is hearing challenges to legislation that gave Gov. Dave Heineman authority over the route and, while the consultation process isn't starting over, the State Department said route uncertainty was slowing federal decisions.

Upton said the legislation he helped write with his counterpart Green would get around such delays.  With North American energy production on the rise, U.S. policymakers can make it easier to take full advantage of the boom by building more cross-border projects.

"This approach is a sincere effort to focus on a targeted solution to the lessons learned from the Keystone pipeline," he said.

The lesson learned after five years of waiting may be that the fight, at least in political terms, is over for Keystone XL.

By Daniel J. Graeber of Oilprice.com

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  • joedPublic on May 11 2014 said:
    LETS get the Keystone Pipeline approved via Congress if the Executive Office cannot deem jobs, energy independence and economic boom MORE important than Environmentalist--these same Environmentalist remain silent when Windmill/Energy fatally injure endangered species like the American Eagle. Thusly proving that Environmentalist decry policies that are politically engineered vs policy that truly negatively impacts the environment. LAST POINT: True environmentalist would not fly in an airplane across the country to protest OIL venture. THAt is WHY they are hypocrites, NONE of them give up 21st century comfort, instead they USE it, yet complain about its sourcing...invoking a true combo image--clueless AND lacking in common sense.
  • Robert Lee on May 11 2014 said:
    Let's get this going an get the Oil flowing enough is enough, get the Oil floowing, pronto, an you politicians get out of the way.
  • Ben on May 12 2014 said:
    This pipeline like all others on the east coast and Arkansas leak. Just YouTube oil leaks and their are several examples these polluting streams and local rivers. I'm conservative politically however these pipelines break all the time their several already coming from Canada and their away leaking. What funny is their is still oil in some of streams in that the company said where cleanup and EPA signed off on them. Well post message and I take you to Arkansas show you first hand what these oil pipelines do. They have tried to block my friends from accessing public land to photo environmental destruction.
  • Colin Basye on May 12 2014 said:
    OK, so if the fight is over, who won? Is the Keystone going to be built or not?
  • Marcus on May 12 2014 said:
    Personally I still do not see the pressing need for XL except to serve the export market which for the US is now considerable. It has reached as much as 3 million barrels per day in the past year. Given the rather sketchy record of pipeline safety, this seems to be something to have at ready but not built out yet.
  • Dr. J.R. Scott-Miller on May 12 2014 said:
    When Putin starts World War #3, there will be great regret if the Keystone XL Pipeline has not been built. This pipeline is essential for our energy independence.
    Mr. President, learn from history. Crimea=the Anschluss. Eastern Ukraine=the Sudetenland. The rest of Ukraine will be like the annexation of Bohemia and Moravia by Hitler. Successful aggression whets the appetite of the aggressor for more aggression. The Baltic states have many ethnic Russian speakers that "need the protection of their mother-land". The Baltic states are members of NATO. Their invasion would be reminiscent of Hitler's invasion of Poland, which at the time had a treaty with France and England, which were then obligated to get involved.
    God forbid that history repeats itself. But be a good Boy Scout and BE PREPARED. BUILD THE PIPELINE NOW.
  • ramon on May 12 2014 said:
    what is wrong if we export the finish product!!!!!!
  • Brian on May 13 2014 said:
    What's wrong is president nitwit doesn't understand that oil is the lifeblood of our economy. Almost all of the products we buy get to the stores we buy them from in a vehicle that runs on oil. Most of the time we get to the stores in a vehicle that runs on oil. Many of the products are made from oil. Our modern machinery is lubricated with oil products. The plastic keyboard we are using is made with oil. The world needs oil, why not let it come from U.S. refineries. But since Mr. Laser focus doesn't know the first thing about our economy, he won't approve it.
  • BouleTheou on May 13 2014 said:
    Okay, the pipeline does not carry oil sands. It carries oil from the tar sands in Canada. And, we need the heavier oils like this because the Bakken stuff is so light. Our refineries are skewed towards processing the heavier stuff. Blend some Bakken crude in with the Canadian bitumen derived oil, and you've got something that's a lot easier to deal with.

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