Hoeven: CRS Report Supports Congress's Authority to Approve Keystone XL Pipeline

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today said a report issued Friday by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) supports his view that Congress has the authority to approve international projects like the Keystone XL pipeline under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Hoeven requested the research from CRS in the process of drafting contingency legislation in the event that the president denied the project, as he did last week. 

After reviewing a range of decisions dating back more than 100 years, the CRS report concludes that “If Congress chose to assert its authority in the area of border-crossing facilities, this would likely be considered within its Constitutionally enumerated authority to regulate foreign commerce.” 

With specific regard to the pipeline, the report went on to say that “legislation altering the pipeline border crossing approval process appears likely to be a legitimate exercise of Congress’s constitutional authority to regulate foreign commerce… and is unlikely to raise significant constitutional questions, despite the fact that such permits have traditionally been handled by the executive branch alone.” 

“This finding confirms what we’ve been saying, and gives weight to not only our bill, but in fact any bill Congress considers to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project,” Hoeven said. “We will continue to work with leadership and our colleagues in a bipartisan way on efforts in both the Senate and the House to advance the Keystone XL project, which will create thousands of jobs, help control fuel prices at the pump and reduce our reliance on Middle East oil. The reality is if America doesn’t build Keystone, the oil will still be produced, but instead of being refined in the United States and directed to North American markets, it will be shipped by sea to China, with harmful economic and environmental consequences for our nation.” 

The Keystone XL pipeline has been subject to rigorous environmental analysis for more than three years, and was on schedule to be decided on by the U.S. State Department the end of 2011, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made clear. By contrast, the original Keystone pipeline, which runs through North Dakota, took two years to review and became operational last year. 

“The Keystone XL pipeline will enable North Dakota to transport an additional 100,000 barrels of oil a day,” Hoeven said. “That will strengthen the state and nation’s infrastructure, and take as many as 500 truckloads of oil off western North Dakota roads every day.”