Senate Republicans to Obama: Approve Keystone XL or Else!

Photo by Kate Sheppard.

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Last month, Republicans in Congress succeeded in getting a provision attached to a bill extending the payroll tax cut that forces the Obama administration to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline within 60 days. Now Obama has until Feb. 21 to issue a verdict on the proposed 1,661-mile pipeline from Canada to Texas.

But in reality, Republicans gave Obama an easy out here. In order to approve the pipeline, he’d have to railroad the review process, which has not been completed yet. He’d also have to ignore a bunch of our nation’s fundamental environmental laws, like the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA). Obama could just say that he can’t approve the project because they forced him to violate other laws.

Now Republicans are at work on yet another way to get around the White House on Keystone. North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven (R) released a draft bill that would take away the president’s authority on the pipeline if he doesn’t grant his approval. Basically, Republicans in Congress forced Obama to make a decision, and if he decides in a way they don’t like, they’re going to ignore him anyway.

Reuters reports that Hoeven is working on the new legislation with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sens. Richard Lugar (Ind.), David Vitter (La.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Mike Johanns (Neb.). The bill would allow work on the pipeline to begin right away—environmental laws be damned. (It would, however, let Nebraska continue its negotiation with TransCanada, the company that wants to build the massive pipeline, on an alternative route through that state.)

Hoeven also held a press conference with the president of TransCanada—just in case it wasn’t clear whose side he’s on.

 

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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