Senate approves Keystone XL Pipeline bill News
Senate approves Keystone XL Pipeline bill

[JURIST] The US Senate on Thursday approved the Keystone XL Pipeline Bill [S.1, text], which proposes development of a 1,179 mile pipeline for the transmission of crude oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. The Republican-led Senate approved the bill in a 62 to 36 vote, with only nine Democrats joining the Republican majority. Sources believe President Obama will likely exercise his veto power [NYT article] against it. Obama has explained in the past that his decision would depend on whether the pipeline development would affect climate change, and on whether the Nebraska Supreme Court’s finds L.B. 1161, which allows “major oil pipeline” carriers to “bypass the regulatory procedures” of the Nebraska Public Service Commission (NPSC) [official website] constitutional. However, last January the US Department of State [official website] concluded in its final environmental assessment [text] of the Keystone XL pipeline that construction and operation of the pipeline would not likely alter global greenhouse gas emissions, and earlier this month the Nebraska Supreme Court held [JURIST report] that L.B. 1161 is constitutional and, thus, pipeline construction could occur in the state of Nebraska.

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline has generated significant controversy [JURIST report]. Expansion [WP report] of the existing Keystone pipeline would allow for the transmission of 830,000 barrels of crude oil daily from the tar sand producing regions of Alberta, Canada to refining facilities on the Gulf of Mexico. TransCanada [official website], the company seeking to build the pipeline, indicates [project website] that this development would support crude oil production in the Bakken Shale formation, which lies primarily in North Dakota and Montana, and that it is crucial to energy security in the United States. Under US law, TransCanada must receive a permit from the US Department of State [official website] because the project crosses the US-Canada border. According to the State Department, Executive Order 13337 [text; PDF] grants the Secretary of State “the power to decide whether a project serves the national interest before granting a Presidential Permit.” If a presidential permit is granted construction of the project can commence.