Hoeven: Keystone Measure Will Help Get America Back to Work, Reduce Reliance on Overseas Oil

Measure Passes as Part of Payroll Tax Cut Extension

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven said a measure he introduced in the payroll-tax cut extension Congress passed today to expedite the approval process for the Keystone XL Pipeline will help create jobs and also help to reduce the nation’s dependence for oil from the Middle East.

“It’s an important part of a bill that’s designed to create jobs,” Hoeven said. “That’s exactly what the Keystone project is all about, as well as creating greater energy independence for our country. That’s why I’m very pleased it’s included in this package. This is exactly how we worked in North Dakota to create jobs, by creating that legal, tax and regulatory environment that empowers private investment, enables companies to invest and deploy new technology, and create jobs and opportunity, as well as more energy for our country.”

Hoeven last month introduced the legislation, which clears the way to build the Keystone XL Pipeline. The underground pipeline will carry an additional 700,000 barrels a day of oil to U.S. refineries and create thousands of jobs for American workers. The bill would require the Secretary of State to issue a permit within 60 days to allow the Keystone XL project to move ahead unless the President determines that it is not in the national interest.

The $7 billion, high-tech transcontinental petroleum pipeline is designed to carry crude oil from Alberta, Canada, and the U.S. Bakken region in North Dakota and Montana to Oklahoma and Gulf Coast refineries. The project would increase total Canadian oil importation by about 30 percent. As the United States’ No. 1 oil trading partner, Canada supplies nearly as much oil as our next two largest suppliers combined.

Already, a separately operating Keystone pipeline runs through eastern North Dakota on its route from Canada to Patoka, Ill., and Cushing, Okla.  The new Keystone XL would run through eastern Montana and expand existing pipeline capacity, while creating thousands of new jobs.

The U.S. State Department was reviewing the 1,700-mile project and expected to announce its decision in early 2012. However, President Barack Obama put the project on hold in early November when he announced that his Administration would review new routes for the pipeline in an effort to circumvent an environmentally sensitive area of Nebraska. The keystone legislation addresses that issue by allowing Nebraska to decide the route the pipeline should take through its state.

The U.S. House of Representatives will need to reconvene to address the payroll tax cut extension next week. They included the Hoeven legislation on Keystone in an earlier version of the bill to extend the payroll-tax cut and unemployment benefits. In its version, the U.S. Senate made two-month provisions for extending the payroll tax cut, retaining the current unemployment payment period of 99 weeks, and avoiding a 27 percent cut to Medicare doctor reimbursement. The measure is expected to pass.