Intelligent Energy

How the GOP plans to resurrect the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline

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Republicans angry with President Obama's denial of a permit for the Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL oil pipeline intend to resurrect the project - by any legislative means available.

Republicans angry with President Obama's denial of a permit for the Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL oil pipeline intend to resurrect the project -- by any legislative means available.

A handful of efforts are underway at the moment. Whether these various attempts actually led to an approval for the pipeline is unknown. Congressional Democrats won't make it easy and it's unlikely Obama would ever sign off on a bill that reversed his decision. Still, Obama technically didn't reject the project altogether. At the time, he said the decision was based on the State Department's inability to meet the deadline. TransCanada plans to reapply for a permit, which means the pipeline proposal will come up again -- just not until after the 2012 presidential election.

Here are four tactics the GOP is pushing at the moment:

Last week Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, introduced the Keystone for a Secure Tomorrow Act of 2012 to immediately approve the pipeline. Republican Rep. Lee Terry of Nebraska also has introduced legislation to transfer the State Department's authority on the border-crossing pipeline to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The bill also mandates the agency to approve it within 30 days. If FERC takes no action within 30 days, the permit is considered to have been issued.

Over the weekend, House Speaker John Boehner committed to getting the Keystone XL pipeline approved. He told ABC's "This Week" that Republicans will include a provision to approve the pipeline in a bill to extend funding for highway and mass-transit programs, if necessary. Republicans are expected to introduce this week the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act to extend transportation programs another five years beyond its March 31 expiration date. Several oil-related provisions, which includes opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, have already been added to the bill. The intent is to have revenue generated from expanded oil-and-gas drilling to pay for the infrastructure reforms, the Hill reported.

Separately, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., introduced a bill today that would let Congress approve the pipeline under the U.S. Constitution's commerce clause. Forty-four senators signed onto the bill, including Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia, which would authorize TransCanada to build and operate the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta, Canada to the refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. The bill would allow the company to move forward with construction while Nebraska -- where there's been significant concern over the pipeline's route through the Ogallala aquifer -- works to find an alternative route.

Photo: TransCanada

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Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure