"In May 2012, TransCanada (a Canadian company) submitted to the U.S. Department of State an application for a Presidential Permit authorizing construction and operation of pipeline facilities for the importation of crude oil at the United States-Canada border. The Keystone XL Pipeline would transport Canadian oil sands crude extracted in Alberta, Canada, and crude produced from the Bakken region in North Dakota and Montana to a market hub in Nebraska for further delivery to Gulf Coast refineries. A decision to issue the Presidential Permit would be conditioned on a State Department determination that the pipeline project would serve the national interest. Members of Congress remain divided on the merits of the project, as some have expressed support for the potential energy security and economic benefits, while others have reservations about its potential environmental impacts. There is also concern over how much crude oil, or petroleum products refined from Keystone XL crude, would be exported overseas. Though Congress, to date, has had no direct role in permitting the pipeline's construction, it has oversight stemming from federal environmental statutes that govern the review. Further, Congress may seek to influence the State Department's process or to assert direct congressional authority over approval through new legislation. This report describes the Keystone XL Pipeline Project and the process that the State Department must complete to decide whether it will approve or deny TransCanada's permit application. The report also discusses key energy security, economic, and environmental issues relevant to the State Department's national interest determination. Some of these issues include perspectives among various stakeholders both in favor of and opposed to the construction of the pipeline. Finally, the report discusses the constitutional basis for the State Department's authority to issue a Presidential Permit, and opponents' possible challenges to this authority."
CRS Report for Congress, R43787