by Daniel J. Graeber
Washington (UPI) Jan 6, 2015
A sign from the White House that bills meant to approve Keystone XL would be met with a veto is disappointing, the American Petroleum Institute said Tuesday.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest affirmed signals from the president's desk that Keystone XL might not get moved through normal vetting procedures despite a bill introduced Tuesday by the newly-minted GOP leadership on Capitol Hill.
With Republican leaders taking their seat Tuesday for the first session of the 114th Congress, API President and Chief Executive Officer Jack Gerard rolled out the industry's State of American Energy platform from Washington D.C.
The agenda describes Keystone XL as "vital infrastructure" for the North American energy sector. Gerard said the project would support thousands of jobs, while bringing 830,000 barrels of oil per day across the U.S.-Canadian border. As much as 10 percent of the pipeline's designed capacity could also facilitate delivery of oil from Montana and North Dakota, regions at the heart of the U.S. shale oil boom.
"Obviously, we're disappointed" with the White House veto threat, Gerard said in a conference call with reporters.
President Barack Obama in a December press briefing said there was a well established vetting process for the pipeline, which rests in part on a Nebraska court decision on the route of the pipeline through the state. Once the court makes its decision, it's the State Department that will take the decision process forward, he said.
Gerard in his remarks to reporters said it should be up to the market to decide what is and what isn't built in the country. If it's weighed against national interests, the free flow of energy goods across the U.S.-Canadian border passes the test, he said.
Keystone XL planner TransCanada submitted its application to build the pipeline more than six years ago. TransCanada President and CEO Russ Girling said the project is still needed despite the long legislative process.
"We can't think of an initiative that better embodies the historically strong Canada-U.S. trading partnership than an $8 billion private sector project," he said.
Supporters of the project say Keystone XL would ensure North American energy security and provide a source of economic stimulus. Detractors said it's meant as an export pipeline for Canadian oil, which they see as a more environmentally dangerous form of crude oil.
Melinda Pierce, legislative director for the Sierra Club, said in a statement congressional leaders pushing for the pipeline were more on the side of the oil industry than their constituents.
"The president has repeatedly dismissed pro-pipeline arguments and said he'd oppose Keystone XL if it contributes to the climate crisis," she added. "We fully expect him to reject this legislative attack on his authority and reject this pipeline once and for all."
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