Keystone XL Pipeline Project: Key Issues [May 3, 2011]   [open pdf - 324KB]

"In September 2008, TransCanada (a Canadian company) applied to the U.S. Department of State for a permit to cross the U.S.-Canada international border with the Keystone XL pipeline project. If constructed, the pipeline would carry crude oil produced from the oil sands region of Alberta, Canada, to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. Because the pipeline would connect the United States with a foreign country, it requires a Presidential Permit issued by the State Department. Some Members of Congress have expressed support for the proposed pipeline's potential energy security and economic benefits while others have expressed reservations about its potential environmental impacts. Though Congress has no direct role in permitting the pipeline's construction, it may have an oversight role stemming from federal environmental statutes that govern the pipeline's application review process. This report describes the Keystone XL pipeline proposal and the process required for federal approval. It summarizes key arguments for and against the pipeline put forth by the pipeline's developers, federal agencies, environmental groups, and other stakeholders. The report discusses potential consistency challenges faced by the State Department in reviewing the pipeline application given its recent prior approvals of similar pipeline projects. Finally, the report reviews the constitutional basis for the State Department's authority to issue a Presidential Permit, and opponents' possible challenges to this authority."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R41668
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