H.R. 3: No Permits Needed For Keystone XL Pipeline

H.R. 3 “The Northern Route Approval Act” waives the permitting requirements for construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Background

*Get all the details on H.R. 3 in Congressional Dish episode CD029

The Keystone XL pipeline is a proposed pipeline that will transport diluted bitumen – a heated form of tar found in the Alberta region of Canada – to refineries on the Texas coast. The pipeline will cross an international border which means that the President needs to certify that the project serves the national interest of the United States before the project can proceed.

The are many reasons why the Keystone XL pipeline is not in the national interest of the United States including:

  • Tar sands energy emits more carbon than conventional fossil fuels, accelerating climate change.
  • Based on the performance of existing tar sands pipelines, spills are inevitable.
  • Diluted bitumen is harder to clean up than regular oil.
  • Keystone XL, by making export an option, may raise gas prices for United States consumers in the Midwest, were there is currently an surplus of diluted bitumen.

The government has been conducting extensive reviews examining these and other issues and has not yet permitted the part of the Keystone XL pipeline that crosses the United States-Canadian border.

Bill Highlights

Section 3: Approval of Keystone XL pipeline

  • KeystoneXL pipeline will be exempted from laws requiring a Presidential permit.
  • The State Department review will serve as the project’s environmental review in the place of the usual standards set by the National Environmental Policy Act.

Section 4: Court cases

  • (a) Only the United States Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. will have jurisdiction to hear cases against the KeystoneXL pipeline.
  • (b) Claims must be filed within 60 days of the project’s approval.
  • (c) KeystoneXL cases go to the front of the line.

Section 5: Endangered species

  • (a)(1) Environmental reviews required by the Endangered Species Act in regards to the American burying beetle will be considered complete.
  • (a)(2) Congress thinks the beetle will be fine.

Section 6: Department of Interior certification

  • Land use certifications required by the Department of Interior are granted for the Keystone XL pipeline.

Section 7: Permit for building over water

  • (a) Keystone XL must be given their permits to build the new route through Nebraska within 90 days of their application.
  • (b) The government may waive any law or regulation in order to issue the permit.
  • (c) If the permit is not issued within 90 days, Keystone XL will be given it’s permit.
  • (d) The Environmental Protection Agency can’t do anything about it.

Section 8: Migratory birds

  • Permits required from the Department of Interior certifying the safety of birds are granted.

Bill Status

The bill passed the House of Representatives on May 22, 2013; all Republicans voted for it along with 19 Democrats. The bill now moves into the Senate.

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