House: Politics out of Keystone debate

Feb. 8, 2012 at 8:34 AM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- A measure, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, takes politics out of a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, a committee said.

U.S. Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., wrote the bill that a Republican-led energy committee said "takes politics out of the pipeline decision" by handing authority to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The bill requires FERC to approve a permit for the Keystone XL within 30 days if a permit from pipeline company TransCanada is considered in compliance with a federal environmental impact statement.

"The benefits of the pipeline are clear -- job creation, lower gasoline prices and greater energy security for America," the House Energy and Commerce Committee said in a statement.

Critics of Keystone XL say backers exaggerate benefits of the project. The House committee defeated a Democratic measure that would ensure Keystone XL would service the domestic U.S. market.

U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said during his testimony that Terry's measure turns FERC into a "yes-man" for the project. Officials in the U.N. Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs and the Office of Energy Projects had testified that FERC doesn't have authority to approve pipeline permits.

The House measure is unlikely to pass through the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Republican leaders inserted a Keystone XL rider into a measure extending payroll benefits, though the White House objected to the measure saying it imposed an "arbitrary" deadline on the pipeline.

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