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GOP's Plan B for Tar Sands Pipeline Approval

Plan seeks Congressional reins of control of pipeline

Common Dreams Staff Report

Keystone XL Pipeline Protest at White House (photo: Emma Cassidy / Tar Sands Action)

Legislation passed in December included a provision requiring the White House to make a decision on TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline project in 60 days. Republicans had already begun putting the pressure on Obama to make the decision.

Now it seems that even if President Obama decides against the pipeline project, Republicans have a plan to push it through anyway.

Reuters reports:

U.S. Congressional Republicans, who are urging President Barack Obama to back the Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL oil pipeline, are now working on plans to take the reins of approval from the hands of the president should the White House say no.

North Dakota Senator John Hoeven, whose state is counting on the pipeline to help move its newfound bounty of shale oil, is drafting legislation that would see Congress give the green light to the project by using its constitutional powers to regulate commerce with foreign nations, an aide said.

The Edmonton Sun reports:

"We believe that express authority in the Constitution gives Congress the ability to approve and move forward on such a project," Ryan Bernstein, an energy advisor to Hoeven, told Reuters.

Reuters has more on Hoeven's background:

Hoeven is a former governor of North Dakota, where shale oil production is booming and the Keystone pipeline would help move part of its bounty to markets.

The Edmonton Sun notes that Hoeven was key in adding the pipeline provision to the payroll tax cut legislation:

Hoeven, who penned the Keystone provision in the payroll tax cut extension bill late last year that forces the White House to decide on the project in 60 days, is keen for the pipeline to be built to transport shale oil out of his state.

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