Latest Posts

Senator Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), backed by GOP leadership and dozens of other Republicans, introduced legislation Wednesday that requires a permit for TransCanada Corp.’s Alberta-to-Texas pipeline within 60 days unless President Obama determines that it’s not in the national interest.  Republicans hope to speed up approval of the project.  The bill’s 36 other current sponsors are all Republicans.  Lugar, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, has 36 other current sponsors for the bill, all Republicans.

The legislation comes roughly two weeks after the Obama administration delayed a final decision on the pipeline until after the 2012 elections by requiring a new route analysis. The bill faces huge hurdles in the Democratically-controlled Senate, but regardless of the bill’s prospects, Republicans backing the pipeline hope to exact a political toll on Obama for punting the issue past the election.

The pipeline delay was a victory for environmentalists that had said approval would sap their energy to mobilize on Obama’s behalf in next year's election. But several unions, including the Laborers' International Union of North America and three other unions, another key part of Obama’s political base, back the project. Business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute are lobbying in favor of the pipeline, arguing it’s a vital way to boost energy security by expanding supplies from a friendly neighbor while creating jobs.

Senator Dick Lugar (R-Ind.)
But environmentalists, who have held high-profile demonstrations outside the White House, oppose the project due to greenhouse gas emissions, potential spills and other issues.

The State Department currently plans to complete an analysis in 2013 of new routes that would steer the pipeline away from the ecologically sensitive Sand Hills region of Nebraska. But pipeline backers say an agreement this month between TransCanada and Nebraska politicians to avoid the area should allow a faster approval. Lugar’s panel has jurisdiction over the new bill because the State Department is leading the federal review of the proposed $7 billion project. (The Hill, 11/30/2011)