WASHINGTON — As the Republican-controlled House prepares to once again register its support for the Keystone XL pipeline, the White House waved its veto pen and Nebraska-based opponents vowed to fight the project down to the county level if need be.
The House is expected to approve legislation today written by Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., that would deem the controversial project approved and seek to sweep away obstacles such as drawn-out legal battles and regulatory delays.
While testifying Tuesday before the House Rules Committee, Terry said it’s past time to move on the project, noting that it’s been nearly five years since TransCanada filed its permit to build the pipeline.
Environmental groups have raised concerns about oil leaks from the pipeline and the potential impact on natural resources. But Terry said extensive studies on Keystone XL have found no significant environmental risk. He said the pipeline will be using the latest technology.
“This is the safest pipeline ever constructed,” Terry said.
The pipeline would carry more than 800,000 barrels a day from the oil sands of Canada to Texas refineries. It requires State Department review and a presidential permit because it crosses an international border.
Republicans — and some Democrats — on Capitol Hill say they want to push the pipeline through because it would boost North American energy independence and create jobs in the hard-hit construction industry.
It’s unclear whether Terry’s bill will even be brought up in the Senate. And Obama could always veto the legislation.
The administration issued a statement Tuesday that the president’s senior advisers would recommend that he veto the legislation if it reaches his desk. The bill circumvents long-standing processes for approving pipelines, according to the statement.
“The bill is unnecessary because the Department of State is working diligently to complete the permit decision process for the Keystone XL pipeline,” according to the statement. “The bill prevents the thorough consideration of complex issues that could have serious security, safety, environmental and other ramifications.”
Bold Nebraska is one of the groups fighting the pipeline. It says that the environmental studies conducted to date are flawed and that the benefits claimed by pipeline supporters are overstated.
The group has sharply criticized Terry, in particular, for his efforts on the project’s behalf.
“Lee Terry’s bill is a pipeline to nowhere, highlighting his poor record of leadership and shows where his loyalties lie — with Big Oil lobbyists and foreign pipeline companies,” the group’s executive director, Jane Kleeb, said Tuesday in a statement.
Bold Nebraska announced a new Facebook ad campaign. It also said it would organize on a county level and seek to use resolutions and zoning laws to protect water resources.
Asked about Bold Nebraska’s activities, Terry said, “God bless our Constitution for allowing them to do those things.”
Contact the writer: