Keystone XL Pipeline Project: Key Issues [May 9, 2012]   [open pdf - 589KB]

"In 2008, Canadian pipeline company TransCanada filed an application with the U.S. Department of State to build the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport crude oil from the oil sands region of Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Keystone XL would ultimately have the capacity to transport 830,000 barrels per day, delivering crude oil to the market hub at Cushing, OK, and further to points in Texas. TransCanada plans to build a pipeline spur so that oil from the Bakken formation in Montana and North Dakota can also be carried on Keystone XL. [...] In the wake of the State Department's denial of the Presidential Permit, Congress has debated legislative options addressing the Keystone XL pipeline. The Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012, Part II (H.R. 4348) and the North American Energy Access Act (H.R. 3548) would transfer the permitting authority for the Keystone XL pipeline project to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, requiring FERC to issue a permit within 30 days of enactment. The Keystone For a Secure Tomorrow Act (H.R. 3811), the Grow America Act of 2012 (S. 2199), S.2041 (a bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline), the EXPAND Act (H.R. 4301), and the Energizing America through Employment Act (H.R. 4000) would immediately approve the original permit application filed by TransCanada. All seven bills include provisions allowing for later alteration of the pipeline route in Nebraska. S. 2100 and H.R. 4211 would suspend sales of petroleum products from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve until issuance of a Presidential Permit for the Keystone XL project. Changing or eliminating the State Department's role in issuing cross-border infrastructure permits may raise questions about the President's executive authority, however. H.R. 3900 would seek to ensure that crude oil transported by the Keystone XL pipeline, or resulting refined petroleum products, would be sold only into U.S. markets, but this bill could raise issues related to international trade agreements."

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CRS Report for Congress, R41668
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