Time to Pass Keystone XL Legislation
By Senator Mike Rounds
Jan. 16, 2015
One of the first items the 114th Congress is taking up is a bill that would authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. A long-time supporter of the project, it was the first bill I signed onto when I took office. The pipeline would bring new sources of energy, create tens of thousands of jobs in the U.S. and free up rail space for South Dakota crops to be sold.
Unfortunately, this project has been politicized by this Administration. By refusing to approve the project – despite having studied it for seven years and undeniable evidence showing that it should be built – the President gives Congress little choice but to take matters into our own hands. With a new Republican majority in both chambers of Congress, we now have an opportunity to put a Keystone bill on the President’s desk. The House of Representatives wasted no time passing Keystone XL pipeline legislation, just as they have in past sessions of Congress. Shortly afterward, the Senate voted 63-32 to bring the legislation to the floor for an open amendment process. I expect the Senate to pass it soon and get it to the President’s desk within weeks.
Unfortunately, the President has already threatened to veto the bill, despite widespread bipartisan support in Congress and the overwhelming support of the American public. A recent CNN poll shows a majority of Americans— 57 percent —support the Keystone XL pipeline. But the President is more concerned with using the pipeline as a political football.
The proposed pipeline will run more than 1,000 miles and carry 830,000 barrels of crude oil to refineries on the gulf coast. It will enter the United States in Montana, then run through South Dakota to connect with an existing pipeline in Nebraska. Separate from Keystone, which has been politicized, thousands of miles of pipeline have already been built and are in use in South Dakota. Over the past seven years, the federal government has run a number of environmental impact studies along the route, coming to the conclusion that construction of the pipeline would not cause any significant environmental risks. Yet the Administration continues to delay its approval, showing us that American jobs and energy independence are not their top priorities. Earlier this month, a lawsuit holding up approval of the route through Nebraska was overturned by the Nebraska Supreme Court, removing another excuse the President has used to delay the project.
Since the pipeline will pass through our state, this would bring job opportunities for South Dakotans. It would also play a significant role in an “all of the above” approach to our nation’s growing energy needs and free up rail space for South Dakota grains. I’m pleased my colleagues have agreed to take matters into our own hands on this important issue. I look forward to debating amendments on the Keystone bill in the Senate. Doing so brings us one step closer to finally building the pipeline, bringing along an economic boost to our country.