Oil Sands and the Keystone XL Pipeline: Background and Selected Environmental Issues [July 16, 2012] [open pdf - 1MB]
"If constructed, the Keystone XL pipeline would transport crude oil (e.g., synthetic crude oil or diluted bitumen) derived from oil sands in Alberta, Canada to destinations in the United States. Because the pipeline crosses an international border, it requires a Presidential Permit that is issued by the Department of State (DOS). The permit decision rests on a 'national interest' determination, a term not defined in the authorizing Executive Orders. DOS states that it has 'significant discretion' in the factors it examines in this determination. Key events related to the Presidential Permit include: 1) September 19, 2008: TransCanada submitted an application for a Presidential Permit for its Keystone XL pipeline. 2) November 10, 2011: DOS announced it needed additional information concerning alternative pipeline routes through the Nebraska Sandhills. 3) January 18, 2012: In response to a legislative mandate in P.L. 112-78, DOS, with the President's consent, announced its denial of the Keystone XL permit. 4) May 4, 2012: TransCanada submitted a revised permit application to DOS."
CRS Report for Congress, R42611