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Hoeven updates Keystone XL legislation

WASHINGTON — Legislation that would approve the Keystone XL pipeline project could hit the U.S. Senate floor next week, Sen. John Hoeven said Thursday.

The senator from North Dakota announced his office filed an updated version to pass the controversial project as part as the energy efficiency bill.

The measure is backed by 56 senators, according to a press release from his office.

Hoeven is working with Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., to get the required 60 votes to pass it.

“The Keystone XL pipeline is a vital energy infrastructure project that the American people clearly favor,” Hoeven said in the release. “Congress needs to make a decision because the administration has delayed making its decision indefinitely.”

The pipeline, which would skirt North Dakota, has the potential to transport 830,000 barrels of oil per day to Gulf Coast refineries, including 100,000 barrels a day from the Bakken Formation.

The Keystone XL has faced more than five years of delay. The most recent came on Easter weekend, when the U.S. State Department extended the comment period for the project indefinitely. The extension is expected to delay a decision from President Barack Obama until after mid-term elections.

“We continue to hear delay, delay, delay from the (Obama) Administration about the Keystone XL pipeline,” said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D. “I’m beyond sick of it.”

Hoeven’s plan would approve the pipeline congressionally under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, Article 1, Section 8. Obama could still veto the bill, but Hoeven hopes to tie the Keystone XL approval to an energy efficiency bill, which he understands the president wants to pass.

“That’s kind of our leverage to get it approved even though the president clearly wants to kill the Keystone XL project,” Hoeven said.

TransCanada Corp., the company behind the project, hopes to build the 1,200 pipeline and ship oil sands from Hardisty, Alberta, to the Gulf of Mexico. The company has met opposition voicing environmental concerns.

But Hoeven said the project is backed by a majority of Americans and four environmental reports claiming the project would have no adverse effects on surrounding areas. The Keystone XL is also expected to create tens of thousands of construction jobs and $7 billion in economic activity.

Hoeven added if America is going to be a leader in energy efficiency the Keystone XL has to be a part of it. An interview with The Press was interrupted when Senate Majority Leader called Hoeven to discuss details of getting the bill to the floor.

April Baumgarten
April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, as the news editor. She works with a team of talented journalists and editors, who strive to give the Grand Forks area the quality news readers deserve to know. Baumgarten grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family continues to raise registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college,  she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as the Dickinson city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.