Washington, D.C. – The Energy and Environment Subcommittees today held a joint hearing to examine the safety and environmental features of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The project submitted a Presidential Permit over four years ago and has undergone extensive review since then. This analysis conducted by the State Department includes thousands of pages of environmental impact assessment, hundreds of thousands of public comments and extensive public and interagency dialogue. Despite the State Department’s conclusion that the project is safe and would have minimal environmental impacts, the administration has yet to approve the project.

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “Four and a half years have passed since the President made ‘shovel-ready’ part of the political discussion. Today TransCanada still waits for the federal government to decide whether allowing a company to create more than 40,000 jobs building a pipeline to deliver oil from an ally is in our national interest.  The Keystone Pipeline creates jobs and enhances our energy independence with minimal impact to the environment. This project, which has been thoroughly evaluated, should be approved immediately.”

The 875-mile pipeline would deliver up to 830,000 barrels per day of Canadian oil sands and Bakken crude from North Dakota to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. The State Department’s most recent review of the project, its Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement on Keystone XL, was released on March 1. Following the finalization of this assessment, the Secretary of State must determine that the proposed project is in the national interest before granting it a permit.

Environment Subcommittee Chairman Chris Stewart (R-Utah): “During the past four years, as this project has been studied, we have learned that the pipeline is safe and environmentally sound. As a former Air Force pilot, I have personal knowledge of how important it is to reduce our reliance on sources of energy that emanate from instable and unpredictable areas of the world. In short, the pipeline is in the national interest. There is no logical reason not to allow it to move forward.”

Despite claims from those who oppose the project, the State Department stated that the proposed pipeline would “have a degree of safety over any other typically constructed domestic oil pipeline” and concluded it would have minimal impact to resources along the proposed route. Additionally, the Department estimated that construction of the pipeline would support over 40,000 jobs and yield $2 billion in earnings. 

Energy Subcommittee Chairman Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.): “This project would allow us to decrease our reliance on unstable or unfriendly sources of oil and increase our trading relationship with Canada, a friendly, democratic, and stable ally. Approval of the pipeline would also facilitate our own oil development, as the pipeline would also carry Bakken crude being produced in North Dakota.”

The following witnesses testified before the subcommittees:

  • Mr. Lynn Helms, Director, Department of Mineral Resources, North Dakota Industrial Commission
  • Mr. Brigham A. McCown, Principal and Managing Director, United Transportation Advisors LLC
  • Mr. Anthony Swift, Attorney, International Program, Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Mr. Paul “Chip” Knappenberger, Assistant Director, Center for the Study of Science, Cato Institute