West Virginia's House delegation was divided on Wednesday's vote
to speed approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
Republican Reps. Shelley Moore Capito and David McKinley -- both cosponsors of HR 3, the Northern Route Approval Act -- voted yes. Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall, a longtime supporter of the project, voted no.
"I think it's long past due," Capito said by phone. "It's a jobs bill and that's the way I see it. ... I hope the President will approve it. I just think it's a win-win."
Calgary, Alberta-based TransCanada, the owner of the project, describes the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline Project as a 1,179-mile 36-inch-diameter crude oil pipeline, beginning in Hardisty, Alberta, and extending south to Steele City, Neb. It would carry 830,000 barrels of western Canadian tar sands oil and oil from the Bakken regions of Montana and North Dakota per day. The estimated cost is $5.3 billion. If approved this summer, TransCanada projects having it in service sometime in 2015.
From Steele City, additional pipelines would transport oil to refineries in southern Illinois (on the existing Keystone pipeline) and to the Gulf Coast at Houston on new and existing pipes. TransCanada notes the pipeline would also support U.S. oil production in the west and south.
The pipeline is promoted as a means to reduce oil imports from unfriendly nations and support commerce with friendly Canada. Because it crosses an international boundary, it requires a presidential permit.
Capito explained in a release, "Despite the overwhelming support of the American people, President Obama has single-handedly stood in the way of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would directly create 20,000 new jobs and many more indirectly. It has been over 1,700 days since the application for the project was filed, yet the president continues to drag his feet. The pipeline is not only a job creator, but it could move 830,000 barrels of oil per day, which represents about half the amount the U.S. imports from the Middle East."
The project was originally proposed in 2008, but denied for environmental concerns. In May 2012, TransCanada said, it filed a new application for a presidential permit with the U.S. Department of State. While awaiting approval, it moved ahead with the southern portion of its Keystone expansion as a separate project, the Gulf Coast Pipeline Project.
In January, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman approved a revised route through his state that bypassed environmentally sensitive lands. In March, the U.S. Department of State released a Draft Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) on Keystone XL that reaffirmed "there would be no significant impacts to most resources along the proposed project route."
The Northern Route Approval Act is an attempt to get around Obama's stonewall on the project by negating the presidential permit requirement, and by considering a 2011 State Department report and a 2013 Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality report as sufficient to satisfy National Environmental Policy Act and National Historic Preservation Act requirements.
It also limits legal challenges to the project.
TransCanada notes that the Alberta oil is going to get to the Gulf one way or another -- by rail or pipeline, and pipeline is more environmentally friendly than rail. HR 3 agrees, saying, "The transportation of oil via pipeline is the
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