Opinion: Paving the way for the Keystone Pipeline

Jennifer Hutchinson

A new Senate Republican majority is paving the way for approval of the long-awaited Keystone Pipeline. After years of foot-dragging by President Obama and the State Department, it looks like Republicans have the opportunity to forward the construction of the Keystone Pipeline XL. The Keystone Pipeline is high atop the priority list for Republicans. According to the Huffington Post, the controversial 1,660-mile pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to Texas has been under consideration for six years. Due to the fact that the pipeline crosses an international border, the permitting decision lies with the State Department.  The Huffington Post also stated that the State Department made a decision in April to further delay construction on the pipeline until a Nebraska court could resolve a lawsuit over the route through the state.

In an appearance on MSNBC Tuesday, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said, “I actually think the president will sign the bill on the Keystone pipeline because I think the pressure — he’s going to be boxed in on that, and I think it’s going to happen.”

However, it is highly likely that President Obama will veto any proposed measures, until the State Department finishes its review. With an anticipated 61 votes in favor of the pipeline, just six short of the 67 needed to override any potential veto, Republicans in the meantime are doing what they can to delay and defund E.P.A. regulations that are impeding them from constructing the pipeline. Specifically, Senator James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma is expected to open investigations into the E.P.A., calling for cuts in its funding and delaying current regulations as long as possible.

Fighting E.P.A. regulations isn’t just about the pipeline, however. The next majority leader, Mitch McConnell, ran much of his re-election campaign based on the promise of fighting President Obama’s war on coal. With Kentucky being one of the country’s top coal producers and coal generating over 90 percent of the state’s electricity, McConnell talked about how E.P.A. regulations were hurting his constituents saying, “I have heard from Kentuckians across the commonwealth about the pain being inflicted on them by E.P.A.’s unilateral actions…I fully intend to do everything I can do to fight these onerous E.P.A. regulations.”

It’s time for the president’s administration to face the Keystone decision that’s been looming for the past six years. Experts from the State Department have already stated that the pipeline’s impact would be very minimal. In addition, the economic rewards of extracting oil from Canada far outweigh options of exporting oil from other countries. As for the pipeline’s routing, regulators have already considered all of the routing options through Nebraska, even shifting the route once. Neither route posed environmental concerns that would justify concluding that Keystone XL to be harmful or un-beneficial to our national interest.

Editor’s note: Column has been updated to include missing attribution for the Huffington Post.