Cochran and Wicker Cosponsor New Legislation to Authorize Keystone XL Pipeline to Gulf Coast Refineries

Measure Would Approve Pipeline Construction Through Congress’ Constitutional Authority

January 31, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker (R-Miss) today announced that they have cosponsored legislation to authorize the construction of an energy pipeline between Canada and the Gulf Coast, a new effort to revive the major construction project following the Obama administration’s decision to halt it.

The Mississippi Senators are among 44 cosponsors of the legislation introduced Monday that would authorize the Keystone XL pipeline project under authority granted to Congress through the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. 

The new legislation was drafted in response to President Obama’s Jan. 18 decision to halt the pipeline construction permit due to his claim that it is not in the best interest of the nation.  Its primary sponsor is Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.).

“The Keystone XL pipeline has been reviewed for years and is ready to go.  If the President wants to shy away from an energy project with so many benefits for the country, then so be it.  This legislation represents another way to try to move this venture forward,” Cochran said.
“At a time when nearly one in ten Americans are looking for work, we need to encourage job creation, and the Keystone XL pipeline could spur more than 100,000 jobs,” said Wicker.  “The President’s opposition to a truly ‘shovel-ready’ opportunity amounts to an outright dismissal of our urgent need to put Americans back to work now.  This bi-partisan legislation would make the Keystone XL pipeline a reality.”

In a recent report, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service confirmed the authority of Congress to authorize the pipeline under Commerce Clause, Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution.  The Senate measure was crafted around that constitutional authority, as well as an Environmental Impact Statement completed in August 2011 by the U.S. Department of State after three years of environmental analysis.

In addition, the pipeline bill includes provisions to allow Nebraska to determine an alternative pipeline route through that state.  It also requires strong environmental and safety requirements, while protecting state and local laws regarding private property rights.

Congress had given President Obama until Feb. 21 to decide whether to allow the Keystone XL project to advance.  The President rejected the permit, saying that the deadline did not give him sufficient time to review the project.

The proposed pipeline would transport more than 700,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada and the U.S. Bakken region to U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast in Texas.  Tens of thousands of Americans jobs are projected to be created to build the 1,800-mile pipeline that will cost an estimated $7 billion.  The Keystone XL pipeline remains the nation’s largest ready infrastructure project.

Canada’s oil sands are among the largest oil reserves in the world. As global demand for oil surges and Canada increases production, the addition of the Keystone XL pipeline would ensure that Americans benefit from reliable and secure oil from our largest trading partner.

In addition to Cochran and Wicker, other Senators cosponsoring the Hoeven legislation include:  Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), David Vitter (R-La.), Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), John Thune (R-S.D.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.); Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Patrick Toomey (R-Penn.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).