Energy & Environment

Congress plots new moves to sidestep Obama on Keystone pipeline

Key Congressional leaders are determined to find a legislative end-run around President Barack Obama’s decision this week to kill the Keystone XL pipeline project.

Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, will begin hearings next week and has asked State Department Secretary Hillary Clinton to testify.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) says all options are on the table including new legislation to make an end-run around the president to okay the $7 billion project that would create 20,000 new jobs and boost the country’s struggling economy.

Republicans will also look at legislation already moving through the approval process to see whether language authorizing the pipeline can be attached, Boehner said.

“I’ll just say this: this is not the end of the fight,” Boehner said. “Republicans in Congress will continue to push this because it’s good for our country and it’s good for our economy and it’s good for the American people, especially for those who are looking for work.

“President Obama is destroying tens of thousands of American jobs and shipping American energy security to the Chinese,” Boehner said. “There’s no other way to put it: the president is selling out American jobs for politics.”

The pipeline project was studied by the State Department for three years, and required a final stamp of approval from the president. Obama punted that decision late last year to appease his environmental base, but Republicans forced him to make a decision before February when they wrote the deadline into legislation that also extended the payroll tax cut Obama requested.

The pipeline would have stretched 1,700 miles from Canada to Texas and carried 1.4 million barrels of oil a day to U.S. refineries.

“The president had a choice between jobs and politics, and he is choosing politics,” Upton said.

“This pipeline has been carefully vetted, environmentally scrutinized, and publicly discussed for more than three years. We can’t wait any longer and the American people should not have to keep waiting for jobs and energy security,” Upton said.

“If President Obama cannot say yes to jobs, Congress will,” Upton said.

Obama is also getting some backlash from within this own party. Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) said he will round up support in the Senate to get final approval for the project.

“It’s time to move forward on the jobs and energy security our nation deserves, and I’ll keep fighting tooth and nail until that happens,” Baucus said.

Obama’s move might have appeased the environmental supporters in his party, but it angered the labor unions that were counting on the new jobs for their members.
The Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) issued a statement criticizing Obama’s decision, and said that “environmental groups have used the Keystone XL as a disingenuous proxy for arguments about global warming.”

“Once again the President has sided with environmentalists instead of blue collar construction workers – even though environmental concerns were more than adequately addressed,” said Terry O’Sullivan, president of the LIUNA.  “Blue collar construction workers across the U.S. will not forget this.”

“The score is job-killers, two; American workers, zero,” O’Sullivan said. “We are completely and totally disappointed. This is politics at its worst.”