Keystone XLGOP lawmakers urge Obama not to link Keystone decision to climate policies

Published 24 May 2013

Democrats who are uncomfortable with the Keystone XL pipeline have urged President Obama to consider attaching policies requiring cuts in greenhouse gases emissions to his approval of the project. Republican lawmakers are urging the president not to link approval of Keystone to climate change policies.

In a letter initiated by Senators John Barasso (R-Wyoming) and John Hoeven (R-North Dakota), and signed by two dozen Republicans, the GOP lawmakers strongly urge  President Barack Obama not to link climate change policies to the issue of approving  the Keystone XL pipeline.

“You should approve the Keystone XL pipeline project on its merits alone without suddenly moving the goalposts after more than four years of review by tethering its fate to wholly unrelated and economically disastrous new regulatory policies,” the lawmakers wrote.

The Hill notes that the House passed a bill by a 241-145 vote earlier this week to end regulatory delays on the pipeline project.

“The Keystone pipeline will create tens of thousands of American jobs and pump nearly a million barrels of oil to US refineries each day, helping to lower gas prices, boost economic growth, enhance our energy security, and revitalize manufacturing,” House Speaker John Boehner said after the vote.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and the rest of the Senate GOP leadershipargue the project should move forward by itself.

“We strongly urge you not to expand the scope of your review to include, or otherwise combine approval of the Keystone XL pipeline project with, expanded regulations or taxes that threaten use of America’s affordable, reliable, abundant coal, oil and natural gas resources,” the letter to Obama said.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), along with other Democrats who oppose the pipeline project, says that if Obama decides to move forward with the project, he should add in other climate policy steps, something that Republicans want to prevennt.

“If they are determined to go down that path, and they can’t be dissuaded, then the important thing is to make sure that they surround that decision … [with] a whole formidable array of environmental and anti-carbon measures that cannot just offset the harm that they do by approving [Keystone] … but actually turn the whole package into a very strong, anti-carbon pollution suite of strategies,” Whitehouse told reporters in April.

The U.S. State Department is currently preparing its final review of the project after concluding, in a draft report earlier this year, that it would have no major impact on the environment.