Keystone Pipeline on PUC’s agenda tomorrow morning because of outdated law. There ought to be an amendment.

From the Public Utilities Commission’s hearing agenda tomorrow, a portion of the re-hearing of the Keystone Pipeline. And we should be ashamed of it:

Hydrocarbon Pipeline

1.     HP14-001     In the Matter of the Petition of TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LP for Order Accepting Certification of Permit Issued in Docket HP09-001 to Construct the Keystone XL Pipeline (Staff Analysts: Brian Rounds, Darren Kearney; Staff Attorney: Kristen Edwards)

On September 15, 2014, the Commission received a filing from TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LP (Keystone) seeking an order accepting certification of the permit issued in HP09-001. The Commission issued an Amended Final Decision and Order granting a permit to Keystone on June 29, 2010. Because it has been at least four years since the permit was issued, Keystone now seeks an order accepting certification, per SDCL 49-41B-27. An intervention deadline of October 15, 2014, was set. The Commission granted intervention to several parties. On October 30, 2014, Keystone filed a motion seeking to define the scope of discovery by limiting discovery to issues related to whether the project continues to meeting the conditions on which the permit was granted, as provided by SDCL § 49-41B-27. Many of the parties filed responses to Keystone’s Motion. On November 4, 2014, the Commission issued a Prehearing Scheduling Conference Order setting a prehearing scheduling telephonic conference to be held by Commission Counsel on November 13, 2014, in an effort to reach a consensus of the parties on an appropriate procedural schedule for the docket. Commission Counsel held the prehearing teleconference as scheduled with most parties attending, but a consensus on an appropriate schedule could not be reached among the parties.

TODAY, shall the Commission grant Keystone’s Motion to Define the Scope of Discovery Under SDCL § 49-41B-27? AND, shall the Commission issue a procedural schedule? OR, how shall the Commission proceed?

Read it here.

Tomorrow’s hearing is not the final hearing on whether the pipeline is granted a continued permit at the state level for the project delayed on an embarrassing manner by the Obama Administration.  What tomorrow consists of is a decision on the scope of discovery for the permit renewal.

Under State law, as provided by SDCL § 49-41B-27, discovery on the renewal should be limited to to issues related to whether the project continues to meeting the conditions on which the permit was granted. According to state law:

49-41B-27.   Construction, expansion, and improvement of facilities. Utilities which have acquired a permit in accordance with the provisions of this chapter may proceed to improve, expand, or construct the facility for the intended purposes at any time, subject to the provisions of this chapter; provided, however, that if such construction, expansion and improvement commences more than four years after a permit has been issued, then the utility must certify to the Public Utilities Commission that such facility continues to meet the conditions upon which the permit was issued.

Read that here.

Tomorrow’s hearing is to settle the arguments between the pro and con sides just how wide-ranging the scope should be.The fact that we have to have a permit continuation hearing in the first place is shameful.

Unfortunately, and solely because of the delay at the federal level, this additional regulatory roadblock dating back to 1977 is thrust upon Transcanada at the state level requiring them to re-argue what has already been decided.

Forty years ago, the permitting process was much more expedient, and four years would have been an eternity not to break ground. Now, “A.K.” (After Keystone) four years means the ink on the federal government’s reply hasn’t been set to paper yet.

Frankly, that’s no way to run a government.

It may be too late to address this issue for Transcanada, but in the 2015 legislative session, Legislators should take a good, hard look at changes to this nearly 40 year old law in light of the regulatory hurdles and the ‘permitting purgatory’ imposed upon energy production by the federal government. If there is this much inertia at the federal level, and they’re going to drag out the process for five and six years at a time, that needs to be taken into consideration at the state level, and this law should be amended.

Given that there is now precedent for the federal process to drag on ad infinitum, if utility companies are going to be subject to this kind of regulatory environment this outdated law should be changed to grant permitting for a minimum of ten years, if not longer, for companies to start construction.

To force them to go through a state permitting process twice before they even break ground is an onerous regulatory burden at the state level, and just as bad as what they’re being subjected to by the federal government.

At the state level, we like to think we’re better than that. This next legislative session, it’s time to prove it.

US Citizens to Obama – KEYSTONE XL NOW

(H/T John Thune)

The number of Americans who want to see the long overdue Keystone XL pipeline built is nearly three to one over the number of people opposed to it. So, why does it still linger in limbo?

Americans support the idea of constructing the Keystone XL oil pipeline between Canada and the United States by a nearly 3 to 1 margin, with 65 percent saying it should be approved and 22 percent opposed, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The findings also show that the public thinks the massive project, which aims to ship 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta and the northern Great Plains to refineries on the Gulf Coast, will produce significant economic benefits. Eighty-five percent say the pipeline would create a significant number of jobs, with 62 percent saying they “strongly” believed that to be the case.

At the same time, nearly half of those interviewed — 47 percent — say they think Keystone will pose a significant risk to the environment.

That so many Americans back the pipeline, even with environmental risks, highlights the quandary facing President Obama and his top aides as they weigh whether to approve the proposal.

Read it all here.

U.S. Chamber’s Donohue Comments on Keystone XL Analysis

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue today issued the following statement regarding the release of the State Department’s Final Environmental Impact Statement on the Keystone XL pipeline project:

“The State Department has once again found nothing in its environmental analysis that would prevent the Keystone XL pipeline from moving forward. It’s time for the administration to stop playing politics with a project that will create good-paying American jobs, improve our energy security, and strengthen relations with our closest ally, Canada.

“Five years of delays, distractions, and foot-dragging is long enough. It’s time to do what’s right for America, our economy and workers, and our relationship with our special neighbor to the north—approve the Keystone XL pipeline.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.

Canada to US on Keystone: Figure it out already, eh?

From the Mitchell Daily Republic/Reuters:

Canada bluntly told the United States on Thursday to settle the fate of TransCanada Corp’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline, saying the drawn-out process on whether to approve the northern leg of the project was taking too long.

The hard-line comments by Foreign Minister John Baird were the clearest sign yet that Canada’s Conservative government has lost patience over what it sees as U.S. foot-dragging.

and…

“The time for Keystone is now. I’ll go further — the time for a decision on Keystone is now, even if it’s not the right one. We can’t continue in this state of limbo,” Baird said in a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Read the entire story here.

He’s right. And we should be embarrassed as a nation that our government is so dysfunctional that they can’t make a decision of this nature.

Happy 5th Birthday to you……. You haven’t been born yet? You must be the Keystone pipeline!

9206919-vector-birthday-cake-with-burning-candles11We’re celebrating a birthday this week at the SDWC.

Happy Birthday to you……. Happy Birthday to you…..

You haven’t been born yet? How can that be?

Oh! You must be the Keystone pipeline!

Yes, the Obama administration has been fiddling around with a decision on the pipeline for 5 years now:

When trying to persuade policymakers and politicians of your point of view, sometimes you need a prop.

Supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline may have found theirs in a 14-inch pencil.

The American Petroleum Institute is using the jumbo-sized writing implements to drive home its belief that the Obama administration is taking too long to review TransCanada Corp.’s proposal to build the pipeline linking Alberta oil sands with Gulf Coast refineries.

Next Thursday, Sept. 19, marks five years since TransCanada first asked the U.S. government for permission to build the border-crossing pipeline.

Since the fifth anniversary is usually celebrated with wood, API ordered up the pencils to mark the occasion.

and…

But there will be no shortage of actions around the 5-year anniversary. A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee — which offers up an embeddable Keystone XL countdown clock online — is set to hold a hearing on the project next Thursday — naturally timed to coincide with the occasion.

“After five years and numerous delays by the State Department, we will look at the benefits and jobs denied by the delay of this landmark infrastructure project,” said Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., in announcing the hearing.

The State Department is currently reviewing public comments filed on its last environmental assessment of Keystone XL, as part of its charge to determine whether the pipeline is in the “national interest.” A final decision appears unlikely before early next year.

Read it all here.

Wondering about the life milestones that the Keystone pipeline has had while it patiently awaits birth?

Keystone XL Timeline

  • September 19, 2008 – TransCanada submits an application to the U.S. Department of State to construct the Keystone XL pipeline, an extension of the existing Keystone pipeline.
  • 2009 – Department of State conducts 20 scoping meetings in communities along the pipeline route and consults with federal and state agencies and Indian tribes.
  • April 16, 2010 – Department of State issues its Draft Environmental Impact Statement. It opens a 45-day comment period, which it extends for additional days.
  • Summer 2010 – Department of State hosts 21 public comment meetings in communities along the pipeline route. When the public comment period is extended, additional meetings are held. Nearly 1,800 verbal and written comments are received.
  • October 15, 2010 – Speaking to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is asked about approval of the Keystone XL pipeline and she says, “we are inclined to do so.”
  • October 25, 2010 – The General Presidents of four international unions representing a total of 2.6 million workers send a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging the Department of State to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project.
  • December 7, 2010 – Department of State hosts a government-to-government meeting for Indian tribes and other consulting parties.
  • January 2011 – TransCanada agrees to adopt 57 project-specific special conditions for design, construction, and operations of the Keystone XL pipeline. The conditions are developed by the Department of State and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration; according to the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, these conditions would give the Keystone XL pipeline “a degree of safety over any other typically constructed domestic oil pipeline,” making it a truly state-of-the-art pipeline.
  • April 15, 2011 – Department of State issues a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement and opens another 45-day comment period. More than 280,000 comments are received.
  • July 25, 2011 – The Obama administration issues a Statement of Administration Policy calling legislation related to the Keystone XL pipeline unnecessary, declaring, “the Department of State has been working diligently to complete the permit decision process for the Keystone XL pipeline and has publicly committed to reaching a decision before December 31, 2011.”
  • July 26, 2011 – U.S. House of Representatives approves H.R. 1938, the North American-Made Energy Security Act. The bill, authored by Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE), requires a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline by November 1, 2011. The bill is approved with a strong bipartisan vote of 279-147.
  • August 26, 2011 – Department of State issues its Final Environmental Impact Statement and opens up a 90-day review period. The agency continues accepting public comments.
  • Fall 2011 – Department of State hosts public meetings in states along the pipeline route.
  • November 10, 2011 – President Obama announces that no decision on the Keystone XL pipeline will be made until after the 2012 election. A decision is expected in early 2013, after the administration identifies a new route for the pipeline.
  • November 10, 2011 – The president’s decision is widely attributed to political pressure exerted by environmentalist groups opposed to the pipeline. A statement from Terry O’Sullivan, General President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, sums up the response: “Environmentalists formed a circle around the White House and within days the Obama administration chose to inflict a potentially fatal delay to a project that is not just a pipeline, but is a lifeline for thousands of desperate working men and women. The administration chose to support environmentalists over jobs – job-killers win, American workers lose.”
  • December 23, 2011 – Both the House and Senate unanimously approve – and President Obama signs into law – a bill requiring approval of the Keystone XL pipeline within 60 days unless the president determines the project does not serve the national interest.
  • January 18, 2012 – After over three years of review, President Obama formally rejects the pipeline’s Presidential Permit and asks TransCanada to reapply.
  • February 7, 2012 – The Energy and Commerce Committee approves H.R. 3548, the North American Energy Access Act. The bill, authored by Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE), removes the president’s authority over the pipeline’s permit and transfers it to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
  • February 16, 2012 – U.S. House of Representatives approves the PIONEERS Act with language from Rep. Terry’s bill requiring swift approval of the pipeline.
  • March 8, 2012President Obama personally lobbies the Senate to kill an amendment calling for congressional approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. In spite of the president’s efforts, 11 Senate Democrats joined all voting Republicans in favor of the project.
  • March 22, 2012 – On a visit to Cushing, Oklahoma, President Obama takes undue credit for the southern leg of the pipeline from Cushing to the Gulf Coast, ignoring the fact that he rejected the only Keystone permit that requires his approval because it crosses our national boundary with Canada.
  • April 18, 2012 – House approves H.R. 4348, the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012, including language authored by Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) taking the pipeline out of the president’s hands and requiring the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve the permit within 30 days. The bill passed with veto-proof support by a vote of 293-127.
  • April 18, 2012 – TransCanada submits a reroute of the Keystone XL plan to the state of Nebraska for review.
  • May 4, 2012 – TransCanada reapplies to U.S. State Department for a Presidential Permit.
  • May 18, 2012 – House passes a Motion to Instruct Conferees on H.R. 4348 to insist on Title II of the House bill regarding approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline. The motion passed with a bipartisan vote of 261-152.
  • June 15, 2012 – State Department publishes Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare a Supplemental EIS (SEIS) for the second Keystone XL Presidential Permit application.
  • January 22, 2013 – Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman gives approval of the proposed reroute of the pipeline through the Cornhusker State.
  • March 1, 2013 — The U.S. State Department issued its Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL Presidential Permit application, which includes the proposed new route through Nebraska. The SEIS findings are similar to the Department’s FEIS issued last August, which found the pipeline will have limited adverse environmental impacts.
  • March 15, 2013 — H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act, is introduced in the House by Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE). The bill addresses all the permits necessary beyond just presidential approval and would limit litigation that could doom the project.
  • March 22, 2013 — U.S. Senate agrees to Sen. John Hoeven’s (R-ND) budget amendment urging approval of the Keystone XL pipeline by a vote of 62-37. 17 Democrats joined every Senate Republican voting in favor of the amendment, signaling future filibuster-proof support for legislation to build the pipeline using congressional authority.
  • April 17, 2013 — The Energy and Commerce Committee approves H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act, by a vote of 30 to 18.
  • May 22, 2013 — House approves H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act, with bipartisan support by a vote of 241 to 175.

Read that all here.

When will President Obama allow the Keystone XL pipeline to finally be born?  Because 5 years is a long time for people to be sitting in a waiting room.

Noem urges Kerry approval of Keystone XL pipeline

From my mailbox:

Rep. Noem Urges Secretary of State Kerry to Support Approval of Keystone XL Pipeline

Washington, D.C. ? Rep. Kristi Noem announced today that she sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry requesting he support immediate approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. Noem?s letter was sent in response to the most recent State Department environmental report released Friday, March 1. The report found no major environmental concerns associated with the pipeline?s construction, though stopped short of recommending its approval.

?It?s been four and a half years since this process started and we have waited long enough,? said Rep. Noem. ?Middle-class jobs are on the line and those jobs are being held up by politics. If we want to be serious about ensuring our nation?s energy security, this project needs to be approved immediately.?

The letter states: ?Studies thus far, including the most recent report released on Friday, show that the Keystone XL pipeline will have minimal environmental impact and a substantial economic benefit to our country. There are no longer any scientific reasons to reject this energy project. I believe it?s time to put middle-class jobs and energy security first. This issue is too important for politics to get in the way.?

It continues: ?I respectfully request that you act expeditiously to support the approval of this project. If we want to be serious about our nation?s energy security, it?s imperative that this project be approved immediately so we can get boots on the ground and people back to work.?

Full text of the letter is below:

Secretary of State John Kerry
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Kerry:

On Friday, March 1st, the State Department issued the latest environmental review of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. This report not only raised no major objections to the pipeline, but also notes that the Canadian tar sands are likely to be developed, regardless of whether the United States approves Keystone XL.

It has been four and a half years since the initial application was sent to the State Department. All studies thus far, including the most recent report released on Friday, show that the Keystone XL pipeline will have minimal environmental impact and a substantial economic benefit to our country.

There are no longer any scientific reasons to reject this energy project. I believe it?s time to put middle-class jobs and energy security first. This issue is too important for politics to get in the way.

I respectfully request that you act expeditiously to support the approval of this project. If we want to be serious about our nation?s energy security, it?s imperative that this project be approved immediately so we can get boots on the ground and people back to work.

Sincerely,

Kristi Noem
Member of Congress

Obama may be looking at approving Keystone. With the poison pill provision of a carbon tax.

From hot air:

There must be some fans of The Walking Dead at the White House and the DNC these days, because there are apparently some bad ideas which never die, no matter how many stakes you drive through them. One of these is the carbon tax, not so subtly invoked during the State of the Union address, and now making a comeback with some of the usual list of suspects in Congress. But this time it may be coming with a twist. You want your Keystone XL pipeline and all of the jobs, opportunity and energy advantages it offers? Well show us the money.

Read it here.

Maybe there was a specific reason carbon tax supporter and Tim Johnson staffer Matt Varilek was running for Congress this last year. Because of advance knowledge of what was coming. And guess which state is going to be one of the hardest hit? South Dakota:

20130303-224312.jpg

See the full data sheet here

Kristi Noem Weekly Column: It's time to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline

From my mailbox:

It?s Time to Approve the Keystone XL Pipeline
By Rep. Kristi Noem

After almost four and a half years of applications, environmental studies and hearings, the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is still in limbo and waiting for approval. In the face of rising energy costs and continued reliance on foreign oil supplies, it is time for President Obama to finally approve this project.

The American people deserve a reliable energy supply that comes from American sources. That means more than just oil, it also means renewable sources such as hydropower and wind. I have and will continue to support an all-of-the-above American energy policy. In South Dakota, we continue to lead by example by taking advantage of our vast wind energy resources and by developing new ethanol technologies.

The Keystone XL pipeline will ultimately decrease our dependence on unstable sources of energy from the Middle East and could create up to 20,000 new American jobs. This project continues to receive strong bipartisan support.

There?s little, if anything, that should be holding the President back from authorizing the start of construction. Environmental analysts have concluded that there are few risks to adding the 1,700 mile pipeline. Even the nation?s biggest labor organization stated that the Keystone XL pipeline would allow workers from all over the United States to benefit from the project.

It?s time for the President and his administration to get serious about our nation?s energy security. This pipeline, once completed, will carry up to 800,000 barrels of oil a day from western Canada to refineries in Texas. The pipeline is shovel ready: easements have been acquired from over 97 percent of landowners in South Dakota and all seven pump station sites have been purchased. But further preparation cannot proceed without approval from the President.

It?s in our nation?s best interest to get this pipeline up and running as soon as possible. Waiting over four years for approval is just too long. I will continue to work to ensure that South Dakotans are heard loud and clear in Washington.

Keystone Kop serving as president

President Obama continues to pander to left wing environmentalists who have no intention of doing what is best for the American people or the environment. His decision to block the Keystone pipeline was calculated entirely on a reelection strategy and not on creating jobs for those looking for work.

If you ask (almost) anyone in this country if they would rather import oil from Canada or OPEC, the answer is simple. Even Obama’s job council disagrees with his decision not to mention the Washington Post which is dumbfounded at Obama’s reasoning.

?Continuing to deliver inexpensive and reliable energy,? the council reported, ?is going to require the United States to optimize all of its natural resources and construct pathways (pipelines, transmission and distribution) to deliver electricity and fuel.?

It added that regulatory ?and permitting obstacles that could threaten the development of some energy projects, negatively impact jobs and weaken our energy infrastructure need to be addressed.?

Mr. Obama?s Jobs Council could start by calling out .?.?. the Obama administration.

When jobs matter, Obama is focused on reelection. I wonder what creating 20,000 jobs would do for the American economy, not to mention those state economies on the pipeline route.

Without the pipeline, Canada would still export its bitumen ? with long-term trends in the global market, it?s far too valuable to keep in the ground ? but it would go to China. And, as a State Department report found, U.S. refineries would still import low-quality crude ? just from the Middle East. Stopping the pipeline, then, wouldn?t do anything to reduce global warming, but it would almost certainly require more oil to be transported across oceans in tankers.

So the gist of Obama’s pipeline decision is that the USA will continue to import this amount of oil from the middle east, while Canada can do business with China, and American citizens lose out on much needed jobs.