TransCanada Corporation’s proposed Keystone XL project is a 1,700-mile pipeline that would carry oil from Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. The project would expand TransCanada’s existing Keystone pipeline, which runs from Alberta to Oklahoma. Keystone XL would deliver upwards of 830,000 barrels of oil per day (b/d) from Canada's oil sands region to U.S. refiners.
TransCanada filed its permit application with the State Department at the end of 2008. The department has issued two environmental reviews of the project and plans to issue a final review next month. Review of the project has dragged on for years while the State Department sought additional environmental analysis.
The House passed the bill (North American Made Energy Security (NAMES) Act (H.R. 1938) on a 279-147 vote that would require that the Obama administration make a final decision on the pipeline by Nov. 1. The vote was mostly along party lines. Forty-seven Democrats voted in favor of the legislation, while three Republicans opposed it. The proposal faces an uphill battle in the Senate. The White House said Monday the legislation is “unnecessary” because the State Department is slated to make a decision on the Keystone XL permit application by the end of the year, within two months of the deadline established in the bill. But the White House did not threaten to veto the bill.
Opponents of the project cite a rash of pipeline incidents that have exacerbated long-standing objections to the proposal from environmental groups and many Democrats. Democrats also blasted the environmental impacts of oil sands production, which emits more greenhouse gases than conventional oil production.
Proponents of theproject say the proposed pipeline would create thousands of jobs and make the country less reliant on Middle Eastern oil. They have accused the Obama administration of slow-walking a multi-agency review of the project headed up by the State Department. The bill, authored by Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.), seeks to ensure that the administration expedites its Keystone XL. (The Hill, 7/26/2011, Graphics courtesy Duke Nicholas School of the Environment)