Senate pushing forward on Keystone, despite President. Progress – a nice change of pace.

From USA Today:

After more than two weeks of debate on numerous amendments, the Senate cleared a key hurdle with a 62-35 vote Thursday to complete work on legislation approving the north-south pipeline for Canadian oil that Republicans advocated as a way to create thousands of U.S. jobs. The vote exceeded the 60-vote threshold needed to cut off additional debate on the bill and set up the Senate to pass the bill later in the day. But the tally was short of the 67 votes the Senate would need to override a presidential veto.

Nine Democrats joined a unanimous Republican caucus to support the bill: Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado, Tom Carper of Delaware, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana and Mark Warner of Virginia.

Before the vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., urged his colleagues to pass the measure. “Constructing Keystone would pump billions into our economy. It would support thousands of good American jobs,” he said. “And as the president’s own State Department has indicated, it would do this with minimal environmental impact.”

Read it here.

What’s that sound I hear? Progress.  Progress you didn’t hear or see anything of under Democrat rule in the US Senate.   For better or worse, up or down, votes are happening, especially on Keystone, a project long sandbagged by the administration.

Progress – It’s a nice change of pace.

Press Release: Americans For Prosperity South Dakota Calls on President to Sign Legislation

Congress Votes For South Dakota Jobs In Passing Keystone Pipeline Bill
AFP South Dakota Calls on President to Sign Legislation

Sioux Falls, S.D. – Americans for Prosperity South Dakota released the following statement after today’s vote of overwhelming support for the Keystone Pipeline by the U.S. House of Representatives.

AFP South Dakota Director Ben Lee said:

“We applaud Congresswoman Noem on her vote to provide much needed relief for middle class families. With 8.7 million Americans still out of work, we simply cannot afford to deny access to 42,000 good-paying jobs. American families need secure jobs and the American economy needs secure energy. The Keystone Pipeline provides both. The President and Senate should act quickly to sign this bill into law and get Americans back to work.”



PUC does the right thing and denies effort to stop Keystone re-certification

From the Associated Press, it looks like the war against energy held one front in the war as the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission did the right thing and denied an effort to stop Keystone re-certification from small groups of protesters:

The panel voted on Tuesday against arguments from a handful of Indian tribes and environmental groups to dismiss the company’s request. That decision opens up an evidence-discovery process that will culminate with final arguments on the case scheduled for May.

Read it all here.

Obama will Veto Keystone Legislation if it hits his desk.

Wow. 6 years is not enough. President Obama just vowed to veto legislation meant to end his foot dragging on the Keystone XL pipeline:

The White House on Tuesday said President Obama would veto Keystone XL pipeline legislation if it passes under the new Republican-led U.S. Congress.

A bill that would have forced Obama’s hand on the issue failed to clear Congress in its final days last year. But the Congress that convened Tuesday and new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the pipeline bill will be among the first issues voted on.

Read it here.

Rounds’ first legislation: Keystone

From Jon Ellis, Mike Rounds is quickly moving to do what we elected him to do in working to end the federal government’s war on energy:

Rounds, who takes the oath of office on Tuesday, has agreed to sponsor a bill that would allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The project, sponsored by TransCanada, has been held up by the Obama administration.

Read it here.

Held up? Try sandbagged for over half a decade.

The pipeline enjoys overwhelming popular support in South Dakota – on a 2-1 basis – so there’s nothing but benefit for Senator-elect Rounds to champion the plan.

Next PUC hearing on Keystone XL coming this week. We still need a remedy for the problems caused by the fed’s war on energy.

From Bob Mercer, the PUC faces a Keystone XL procedural hearing on Tuesday where opponents continue to try to throw a wrench into what should be a minor hurdle in recertification.

State law calls for a project’s sponsor to seek certification from the commission if the project hasn’t commenced within four years of the permit. The purpose of certification is to show the project will continue to meet conditions set in the permit.

“Surely the Legislature did not intend for a complete bar to certification by establishing a standard that no project could satisfy,” PUC staff attorney Kristin Edwards wrote in the brief. “For example, one such change that was noted by Keystone and would likely apply to any project that was dormant for four years was an increase in cost.”

TransCanada, through its lawyers in South Dakota, opposes the dismissal. They contend various conditions in the permit were written in specific ways to allow for changes.

Read it here.

And I persist in believing that, in the face of a federal government hostile to oil, gas and coal resource development, the Legislature needs to make sure that a federal government delay should not be able to be used to force a company into having to spend the time and financial resources needed for state certification twice.

It’s a basic issue of fairness – and legislators need to recognize that. We can only hope they propose a legislative solution.