President Barack Obama will not be bringing up the Keystone XL Pipeline in his State of the Union address Tuesday night, but Texas Republican Congressman Ted Poe is intent on keeping the controversial oil pipeline project in the news and circumventing the administration’s denial of a permit to build it.
Tuesday, the Texas congressman introduced the “Keystone For A Secure Tomorrow Act” (K-FAST) to allow the 112th Congress to “directly and immediately” approve the Keystone XL Pipeline permit for TransCanada Corporation.
According to Poe, the approval of the pipeline is within Congress’ authority. In 1973, Poe noted, Congress passed the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act to allow construction of the 800-mile-long north–south pipeline from frozen Prudhoe Bay to the ice-free port of Valdez.
The Keystone XL project, if authorized, would start in Canada and end up in Port Arthur, TX — part of Poe’s district. Poe estimates that he represents more refineries than any other representative in Congress.
“My bill would authorize the construction of the pipeline — except for the new route that has not been determined yet, that small route in Nebraska, that would still have to go through the normal channels. The rest of it would be authorized immediately,” Poe told The Daily Caller, adding that since Keystone is in “the national interest” Congress has the authority to pass the legislation.
Poe’s bill adds to proposals from other Republicans attempting to get around the Obama administration’s permit denial.
“Congress does have the legal authority to make this decision, and that is why I filed the bill,” he said. “There are no cases that say the President has exclusive jurisdiction over an issue such as this, and the Alaska Pipeline is one of those examples where Congress exerted the authority to approve a pipeline.”
Poe introduced the legislation with Oklahoma Democratic Rep. Dan Boren.
“Instead of saying yes and providing much needed relief to the people, the Administration turned its back on Americans and just said no to the Keystone XL Pipeline. It is the moral obligation and legal authority of Congress to say yes,” Poe added in a statement. “Congress cannot sit idly by and watch Americans suffer as a result of this reckless decision motivated by politics. It’s time to create jobs, bring energy to the United States and make Middle Eastern politics irrelevant to our national security.”
Despite the president’s denial, TransCanada last week said that it intends to reapply for a permit and hopes to be approved in time for a 2014 start date.