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    Keystone XL Pipeline Tag

    U.S. District Judge Brian Morris has just ordered a halt to the construction of the $8 billion Keystone XL Pipeline, the next phase of the massive pipeline system, until further environmental analysis is conducted.
    The decision comes as TransCanada is preparing to build the oil pipeline beginning in northern Montana, with pipe being shipped to the state by train and trucked to locations along the line.

    According to reports, the State Department will approve the needed Keystone pipeline permit before Monday. The decision "comes 16 months after Obama blocked construction of the 1,200-mile pipeline." From Politico:
    Undersecretary for political affairs Tom Shannon plans to sign the pipeline’s cross-border permit on or before Monday, the last day for the 60-day timeline that President Donald Trump ordered in January. Secretary of State and former Exxon Mobil Chief Executive Rex Tillerson recused himself from the process.

    President Trump has signed executive orders moving the approval process for the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines forward. This does not ensure approval and construction, but it restarts the processes stopped under the Obama administration under heavy pressure from environmental and left-wing activist groups. Stopping these pipelines was the most cherished of liberal causes, intertwined with climate change and identity politics causes. The Dakota pipeline protests became the white liberal "Burning Man," with virtue signaling reaching new heights. Anti-Israel protesters also tried to hijack the protests.

    Earlier this week, the State Department rejected an industry request that they pause their review of the Keystone XL pipeline until the conclusion of negotiations between Nebraska policymakers and TransCanada officials. State rejected this request, and today, President Obama officially rejected TransCanada's request to build the Keystone XL pipeline. President Obama's approval was required for the project's completion, as construction would cross an international border. More from the WSJ:
    “The State Department has decided that the Keystone XL Pipeline would not serve the national interest of the U.S.,” President Barack Obama said in brief remarks from the White House. “I agree with that decision.”

    Today the State Department informed TransCanada Corp. that the agency review of the Keystone XL pipeline and its associated permits will continue in spite of the corporation's request that the process be paused. TransCanada is currently in both a legal and logistical battle regarding the future pipeline’s route through Nebraska; the corporation submitted its original request for a pause to the State Department "out of respect for the process" of policy negotiations with lawmakers, activists, and property owners in Nebraska. More from the WSJ:
    “We have communicated to them our intention to continue the review,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said. “We’re not required to pause it based on an applicant’s request, there’s no legal basis to do that.” Mr. Kirby added that a lot of interagency work has gone into reviewing the project.

    TransCanada, the Calgary-based company behind the push to construct the Keystone XL pipeline, has asked Secretary of State John Kerry to pause the State Department's review of the project until state-level negotiations on the actual construction of the pipeline are resolved. TransCanada is currently in the middle of both a legal and logistical battle regarding the future pipeline's route through Nebraska. The company has found itself in a months-long dispute, and is now asking "out of respect for that process" to suspend consideration and a decision on the pipeline's fate until negotiations over the route through Nebraska are settled. (Note that TransCanada has not withdrawn its application; if granted, the suspension would constitute a pause on a final decision for 7 to 12 months while the Nebraska question is resolved.) More from CTV:

    As Ed Morrissey comments at Hot Air, "Profiles in Courage this ain’t." At a campaign event in New Hampshire yesterday, an attendee asked Hillary if she would approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. Her answer, if you can call it one, was that she would answer the question if and when she becomes president. Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post wasn't impressed:
    Hillary Clinton’s ridiculous hedge on Keystone XL "If it’s undecided when I become president, I will answer your question," Clinton said. "This is President Obama's decision. I'm not going to second-guess him." Er, what? Clinton went on to note that she was in a position unique among the 2016 field due to her time as secretary of state. "I'm in a different position than any other candidate," Clinton said. "I was there. I put this process together. I oversaw it for four years." (Because the pipeline would begin in Canada, its approval -- or not -- is in the hands of the State Department.) Uh huh.

    We knew this day was coming, although we'd hoped that somewhere in his heart, President Obama might find the decency to pass legislation that would create thousands of jobs, reinvigorate communities and small towns, likely decrease the instances of exploding trains, and pump much needed cash into our fledgling economy. Alas... Some have speculated that because the pipeline would've run through red states, President Obama would never be willing to reward those states with economic bounty. But we've been assured that the bipartisan, union-backed bill was vetoed because the President takes his job very seriously. Gregory Korte reports at USA Today:
    "The presidential power to veto legislation is one I take seriously," Obama said in his veto message. "But I also take seriously my responsibility to the American people. And because this act of Congress conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest — including our security, safety, and environment — it has earned my veto."
    Suddenly, the President is concerned about "well established executive branch procedures" *cough* executive immigration overreach *cough*. But I digress...

    A train carrying crude oil derailed in West Virginia Monday, causing a massive fires and forcing evacuations. Here's a report from the Associated Press via the New York Times:
    West Virginia Train Derails, Sending Oil Tanker Into River Oil from North Dakota's shale fields was still burning in West Virginia a day after a train carrying more than 3 million gallons of crude derailed in a snowstorm, shooting fireballs into the sky. Hundreds of families were evacuated and nearby water treatment plants were temporarily shut down after 19 tanker cars left the tracks and caught fire, leaking oil into a Kanawha River tributary and burning a nearby house down to its foundation. "There's nothing there," said Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, who toured the scene. "All you can see is a couple of blocks sticking out of the ground. There's some pickup trucks out front completely burned to the ground."
    The flames caused by the crash were unbelievable: The accident has revived the debate over the Keystone XL Pipeline, a mode of fuel transport proponents claim is much safer.

    Obama is getting ready to shoot down the Keystone pipeline bill in the first of what promises to be a blizzard of vetoes of legislation the current Congress is planning to pass. Never mind that the Keystone bill passed with bipartisan support in the Senate 62-36 (nine Democrats joined) and in the House 266-153 (28 Democrats joined; although there will have to be another vote in the House within the next few days to align the two bills, it is expected to go similarly). From The Hill:
    Still, if Obama vetoes too many bills, especially ones with Democratic support, Republicans could have success portraying him as partisan and unwilling to negotiate. “One veto doesn’t make him obstructionist,” said James Thurber, a professor of government at American University. “Now maybe after 3, 4, 5 vetoes, then they could start painting him that way.”
    Portraying him. Painting him. Not, of course, that he is that way. Here's a statistic: since January, Obama has issued eight veto threats. That's "the most ever for the start of a new Congress." Obama thinks this projects strength, and to his supporters it most definitely does. When the Republicans---even when in the majority in the House, and even with Democratic support---tried to block something Obama was attempting, their actions were painted as unreasonable and stubborn obstructionism. Now, when Obama plans to block what a Republican-majority Congress has done, even when those Republicans have a significant amount of support from moderate Democrats, it's a show of strength and resolve.

    Via AP:
    Legislation approving construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline cleared an initial Senate hurdle Monday, a victory for newly empowered Republicans angling for a quick veto showdown with President Barack Obama. The bipartisan 63-32 vote was 3 more than the 60 required, and well above the level the highly controversial measure ever gained in recent years when Democrats controlled the Senate.... But with more than enough votes at their command, Republican and Democratic supporters said they hoped the legislation could win final approval and be sent to the White House by the end of next week. "President Obama has every reason to sign the jobs and infrastructure bill that we will pass," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. He noted that the Nebraska Supreme Court had recently rejected a legal challenge brought by opponents, an obstacle the White House had cited.
    While this vote was important, backers of the pipeline will need to hold the line when it times to voting to close debate. That's when the arm-twisting by the White House will get real. But with 60 cosponsors, there may not be much the White House can do to avoid having to issue a veto. National Journal reports there are not currently enough votes to override a veto, but the open amendment process might help in that regard:

    Yesterday, Senate Republicans attempted a procedural fast-track on the bipartisan Keystone XL jobs and infrastructure bill. The goal, according to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), was to immediately begin processing amendments to the controversial bill with the end goal of getting it to the President as soon as possible. McConnell asked for unanimous consent to proceed with consideration of the bill, noting that amendments would be accepted from both sides of the aisle. The problem? Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) objected. Instead of being able to move forward immediately, Leader McConnell was forced to file cloture on the motion to proceed with the bill; this means that unless Senator Whitehouse drops his objection, the next vote on the bill will have to wait until 5:30 on Monday. What a petty start to the 114th Congress. In prepared remarks from earlier this week, Harry Reid insisted that, “[t]he mistakes of the past, the gratuitous obstruction and wanton filibustering will not be a hallmark of the Democratic minority in the 114th Congress.” (Apparently, we're meant to have forgotten the hundreds of bills and amendments that suffered and died in the hands of then-Majority Leader Reid.)

    The new Republican congress was sworn in yesterday, and one of their first orders of business is an attempt to advance plans for the Keystone XL Pipeline. Unfortunately, obstructionist Democrats in the Obama administration are standing in the way of progress. Timothy Gardner and Richard Cowan of Reuters reported:
    Republicans push Keystone bill, White House threatens veto Republican senators kicked off the new U.S. Congress with legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline to bring oil from Canada, but the White House promptly threatened a veto. With Republicans assuming full control of Congress on Tuesday after victories in the November elections, they have put Keystone at the center of their agenda and plan weeks of debate. They believe that the public spotlight on Keystone will pressure President Barack Obama to eventually approve the project. The White House was adamant that Obama would not sign the Keystone bill. "There is already a well-established process in place to consider whether or not infrastructure projects like this are in the best interest of the country," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.
    A vote is set for Thursday.

    Last time the Keystone XL Pipeline showed up on our radar, it was when embattled former Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu (D-efeated) attempted to use her support of the authorization bill to boost her spiraling poll numbers. That vote died at the hands of a single Democrat vote held hostage by former Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Landrieu lost the election, and Republicans left Washington ready to bide their time and pass Keystone with their incoming thin-but-comfortable majority. This time around, though, Republicans aren't just working to move a bill that by all accounts should pass the Senate without a second thought. On Thursday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a vote on legislation approving the pipeline; the bill is expected to move out of committee without much trouble, but this time around, Senate leadership is aiming not only for 60 votes, but for enough support to override a future Presidential veto. The first few weeks of the new Congress won't focus exclusively on energy, but instead on a series of issues Republicans are confident they can move through Congress and send to the President's desk. From Politico:
    The goal, quite simply, is to begin passing bills that will clear both the House and the Senate and end up on President Barack Obama’s desk. Almost all of the bills Republicans will put on the floor passed the House last Congress, when Democrats held the majority in the Senate. The agenda was described by leadership aides who were not authorized to discuss the plan on the record.
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