[JURIST] US President Barack Obama issued his third presidential veto [press release] Tuesday, rejecting the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act [S1 materials] for circumventing national interest determinations. Objections to the heavily-Republican supported bill raised environmental concerns, and Obama had previously voiced his intention to veto the bill if it reached his desk. The Senate approved the bill in January, and the US House of Representatives approved the bill [JURIST reports] earlier this month, but neither chamber passed the legislation with a wide enough margin to override a presidential veto. US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell [official website] responded [press release] Tuesday that, “this veto doesn’t end the debate,” suggesting a potential Congressional attempt to override the presidential veto.
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 [corporate 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 US. 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.