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Sen. Hoeven pushes for Keystone XL

John Hoeven

Showing again that he means business on the Keystone XL pipeline, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., introduced a resolution in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday that could eventually spur congressional approval of the project, thereby bypassing President Barack Obama.

Stating final approval of the controversial pipeline is "in the national interest," a joint resolution was offered Wednesday by Hoeven and Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., that refers to Keystone XL as a "sound investment in the infrastructure of the United States" and a jobs-generating project that would "promote energy security in North America."

Hoeven said the resolution is another tool being used by supporters of Keystone XL to continue to apply pressure on the Obama administration for approval, though he hinted that continued momentum for the project could eventually lead to approval via a back channel.

"Congress has Commerce Clause powers, which allow us to determine trade relations with foreign countries," Hoeven said. "Under that clause, Congress could approve Keystone (XL) directly and, in essence, bypass the president. That legislation is already in and is one option. But I'd have to get 60 votes (in the Senate) to do it. We're getting more support for that all the time and I have well over 50 votes committed. But we need 60 and the White House has been pushing back."

Hoeven said the resolution offered Wednesday would be helpful in the quest for Keystone XL approval because it would potentially put a majority in both the House and the Senate on record stating that the pipeline is in the national interest.

"I'm pushing on multiple fronts," Hoeven said early Wednesday evening. "What I'm hoping is, if I can't get some of the Democrats to take the decision out of the president's hands, then (the resolution) would be a way to leave it in his hands, but tell him he needs to do it. I think the resolution was received well today."

In a statement, Landrieu said the project would have "tremendous economic benefits with minimal effects on the environment," though environmentalists and others have long argued that the pipeline would open a proverbial Pandora's box of carbon-releasing Canadian tar sands oil development.

Also on Wednesday, Hoeven reintroduced the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act with Senate co-sponsors Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

A comprehensive 12-bill package of energy legislation, Hoeven called DEJA a "true all-of-the-above approach to energy development" and said the measure would spur overall economic activity with good environmental stewardship.

"America's abundance of energy resources combined with the technological know-how and entrepreneurial talent of Americans to develop them can lift our country up," Hoeven said. "This is a whole range of bills that will help us develop our resources, both onshore and offshore. The approach that I'm taking is a states-first approach and DEJA provides a range of bills that help our states to do more on private land, but also public lands while limiting regulatory burdens."

Measures included in the package would attempt to streamline energy permitting, freeze and study the impact of EPA rules on gasoline regulations, provide live online Bureau of Land Management auctions and open access to the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska for energy development, among other initiatives.

Bryan Horwath
A Wisconsin native, Horwath has been covering news in the Oil Patch of North Dakota since 2012. Horwath currently serves as the senior agriculture and political reporter for The Dickinson Press and, despite the team's tendency to always let him down, remains a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan.
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