Hoeven-Lugar-Vitter, Bipartisan Group of Senators to Introduce Legislation to Approve the Keystone XL Pipeline

44 Senators Support the Bill

WASHINGTON –U.S. Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), David Vitter (R-La.) and a total of 44 senators today announced that they will introduce legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project under Congress’s authority enumerated in the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8. The bipartisan group of senators committed to working together to advance this critical project for the United States. Hoeven, Lugar and the other senators have been working with colleagues in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to ensure that this vital project is advanced.                                                  

The legislation authorizes TransCanada to construct and operate the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to the U.S. Gulf Coast, transporting an additional 830,000 barrels of oil per day to U.S. refineries, which includes 100,000 barrels a day from the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana. The bill allows the company to move forward with construction of the pipeline in the United States while the state of Nebraska works to determine an alternative route. Hoeven secured an opinion from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) confirming Congress’s constitutional authority to approve the project. 

The Keystone XL pipeline project has been under review for more than three years, but President Obama rejected it last week saying the 60-day provision authored by Lugar, Hoeven and Vitter included in the payroll tax cut extension bill passed in December didn’t give him enough time to review the project. In fact, the Obama Administration spent 1,217 days reviewing the pipeline and there was no time limit on the State Department’s ability to review the Nebraska portion of the project. 

          “Our legislation not only acknowledges the vital national interest this project represents on many levels, but also works in a bipartisan way to begin construction,” Senator Hoeven said. “It will create thousands of jobs, help control fuel prices at the pump and reduce our reliance on Middle East oil and it can be accomplished with congressional authority, just as the Alaska Pipeline was nearly 40 years ago. The reality is that if America doesn’t build the Keystone project the Canadian oil will still be produced and shipped, but instead of being refined in the United States by American workers and benefiting American consumers, it will be shipped by tanker across the Pacific to China.” 

“The job creation, economic and energy security arguments are overwhelmingly in favor of building the pipeline. A majority of Americans support it. President Obama’s opposition is not in the best interest of the United States. The President has failed to lead but we will not stop trying to complete this critical supply line,” Senator Lugar said. 

“This new bill is a lot like the old one, but it makes it definitive that Congress has the authority to push the Keystone XL Pipeline forward,” said Senator Vitter. “Everyone in Washington talks about saving the economy and creating jobs – the Keystone XL project will actually do something about that. And it would be pure politics for the president not to support it.” 

“The President said recently that he was for an ‘all of the above’ approach to energy, yet he rejected the one bipartisan energy project that is shovel-ready and can produce thousands of new jobs almost immediately – the Keystone XL Pipeline,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said. “While it’s clear that the President was appealing to his liberal environmental base when he blocked Keystone, this legislation would move us towards the creation of thousands of jobs and energy security for our nation.” 

Legislative Summary 

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. By contrast, the original Keystone pipeline took two years to review and became operational last year. 

          The Hoeven-Lugar-Vitter legislation builds off the completed Environmental Impact Statement, which was finished by the State Department on Aug. 26, 2011. Additionally, it requires the U.S. State Department to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) within 30 days with the state of Nebraska to assist in rerouting in that state, which will be subject to the Nebraska governor’s agreement on the route within the state. However, it allows Nebraska all the time it needs to identify a new route within the state to strengthen the completed Environmental Impact Statement. 

          Further, the legislation requires strong environmental and safety requirements by incorporating the environmental and safety standards required and finalized by the Secretary of State. At the same time, the bill protects state and local laws relating to the protection of private property rights by ensuring those laws are not changed in this process. 

          In addition to Senators Hoeven, Lugar, and Vitter, other original cosponsors of the bill are Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), John Thune (R-S.D.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), John Boozman (R-Ark.) Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.); Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Patrick Toomey (R-Penn.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.). 

What Senators Are Saying 

Sen. Mike Johanns

“This pipeline is not only a national priority because of the energy and jobs it will bring, it’s also a Nebraska priority. I believe we must move the project forward while still allowing Nebraska and TransCanada the time they need to find the right route through our state and this legislation does that.” 

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison:

“We have spent billions in this country on ‘stimulus' packages that have not stimulated employment. With the Keystone Pipeline we have a private, non-taxpayer entity that will create thousands of jobs, bring approximately 700,000 barrels of oils sands to Texas refineries, and produce cheaper energy for families and small businesses in our country.” 

Sen. Jerry Moran:

“Our country cannot afford to further delay long-term energy security, and unemployed Americans with the skills to construct this important project should not be forced to wait any longer. The Obama Administration has already spent three years reviewing the Keystone XL permit and conducting two comprehensive environmental evaluations of the project. Furthermore, the Canadian government has made it clear they will pursue other markets if this project cannot be completed. This legislation would put Americans to work now and provide an opportunity to grow local, state and national economies while taking a vital step toward energy security.” 

Sen. Orrin Hatch:

“The White House’s decision to reject the Keystone pipeline project was another failure in leadership from one of the most anti-American-energy Administrations in our nation’s history. This common-sense legislation would overturn the White House’s inexplicable decision and allow this critical, job-creating project to move forward.” 

Sen. Ron Johnson:

“President Obama says he wants to create jobs, invest in shovel ready infrastructure projects, and reduce America’s dependence on Middle East oil. But then he kills the Keystone XL pipeline, and the 20,000 jobs and the billions of dollars in private sector infrastructure spending that died with it. The President’s decision shows where his true loyalties lie: with extreme environmentalists. He is showing once again his dedication to increasing the federal government’s control and intrusion into our lives. I'm pleased to join as an original cosponsor of this legislation, which would allow this important project to go forward.” 

Sen. Mike Crapo

“The Keystone XL Pipeline project will create immediate jobs, stimulate the economy and generate new revenue for cash-strapped state and local governments. Further delays simply to satisfy political allies unnecessarily sacrifices real job creation for narrow interests.” 

Sen. Dan Coats:
“It is both irrational and disingenuous for an administration that claims its number one priority is jobs to block a project that would put thousands of Americans back to work. We need results from Washington, not more excuses. Keystone XL pipeline has bipartisan support because it will provide jobs for hardworking Americans and reduce our country’s dependence on Middle East oil.” 

Sen. Rob Portman:

“I urge President Obama to support the Keystone XL pipeline, one of the largest private sector infrastructure projects in the nation. This project would create tens of thousands of jobs, and would likely benefit Ohio’s struggling manufacturing sector."  

Sen. Saxby Chambliss:

“We simply cannot afford to delay approval of the Keystone pipeline permit any longer. Its construction will allow us to increase oil imports from Canada, a trusted ally and friend. By rejecting this permit, President Obama is putting his own re-election ahead of America’s economy and energy security. After years of review and environmental evaluation, it’s time to move forward on this project.  This legislation will ensure we do just that.” 

Sen. John Cornyn:

“The Keystone XL pipeline will bring thousands of long-term jobs and energy security to the United States, and will be good for the economy, good for national security, and good for Texas.”  

Sen. Lamar Alexander:

“If the president won’t act, Congress should. There’s no excuse not to move forward with a pipeline that will create 20,000 jobs and make us less reliant on oil from hostile countries.” 

Sen. Pat Toomey:

“We can’t wait for the president to drag his feet on this job-creating project any longer. Instead of focusing on American energy security and putting people back to work, the president has chosen to appease environmental special interests instead. It’s time for Congress to step up and do what the president hasn’t – authorize this pipeline and create tens of thousands of American jobs, increase our access to oil from our friends in Canada, and diminish our dependence on less secure sources of energy.” 

Sen. Joe Manchin:

“As our country continues to need oil, common sense tells me I’d rather buy it from our friends in Canada, not countries around the world that seek to do us harm. I’d rather buy from our closest ally and create jobs in America than push Canada to build a pipeline out to the West Coast of North America that benefits countries like China. This pipeline is a job creator with support of both labor and business. It needs to be built not for the benefit of one political party or one state, but for the benefit of America.”  

Sen. Johnny Isakson:

“Now, more than ever, our country needs leadership on energy security. Unfortunately, President Obama failed to provide leadership when he rejected the Keystone XL pipeline last week. I am proud to join my Republican colleagues in the Senate in rejecting the president’s action by trying to move the Keystone XL pipeline forward. I will continue to do everything I can to support this critically important project, which will bring 700,000 barrels of crude to the U.S. from our strong ally Canada and at the same time, create thousands of American jobs.” 

Sen. Dean Heller:

“Job creation should be a top priority for Congress and the Keystone XL pipeline would undoubtedly create jobs for Americans at a time when our nation needs them most.  Moreover, it would contribute to our nation’s energy security which is critical to economic growth.  It is time to put partisanship aside and start moving legislation that will help put Americans back to work,” said Senator Dean Heller.  

Sen. Bob Corker:

“The Keystone pipeline will create thousands of American jobs and provide our country with access to a large supply of North American energy.  There is no good reason to block this project when we really need the energy and the jobs the pipeline would generate.” 

Sen. Jeff Sessions:

“Instead of pouring money into politically-favored companies like Solyndra, the President should have allowed the construction of the Keystone Pipeline which would have produced thousands of good-paying jobs.  This bill is a great way to create jobs without adding to the debt and will make our country stronger and more energy independent.” 

Sen. Lindsey Graham

“The Obama Administration’s decision to delay construction of the Keystone XL pipeline was irresponsible. Keystone XL will create thousands of jobs in the United States and also help reduce our dependence on oil from the Middle East and Venezuela. The construction and operation of Keystone XL is an economic and energy must-do for the United States. I am pleased to support this effort and am hopeful it will pass the Congress in a strong, bipartisan vote,” said Senator Lindsey Graham. 

Sen. Jim Risch

“The decision by President Obama to deny the permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline was flat wrong and puts politics before jobs and economic growth. That denial could very well allow the Chinese government to strike a deal and have the oil shipped to them instead of the U.S.  This legislation prevents that by clearing the way for this project to move forward."