OVERNIGHT ENERGY: No end in sight for Keystone XL

THE ONE PIPELINE TO RULE THEM ALL: Following the release of the State Department's environmental impact analysis on the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline Friday, Washington D.C., erupted in accelerated calls for President Obama to approve or deny the project.

Surprise, surprise, Keystone XL dominated the energy world on Tuesday.

Green groups told The Hill that President Obama could "deflate the base" if he gives the TransCanada pipeline the green light, which could hurt Democrats come November.

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“It is very likely that there will be negative consequences for Democrats if Keystone were approved,” said Kate Colarulli, the associate director for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Oil campaign. “This is a tremendous opportunity to protect the climate and build the Democratic base if Obama rejects Keystone XL.”

This puts Obama in a tight spot, because approving the pipeline could depress turnout at the polls, causing Democrats to lose the Senate. But denying the pipeline could possibly do the same by opening up key Senate Democrats Mary Landrieu (La.), Mark Begich (Alaska), and Mark Pryor (Ark.) to fatal blows from GOP challengers in their reelection bids this year — all together putting Obama in a bit of a catch-22.

Former Energy Secretary Steven Chu, may have put it best when he called the decision a "political one" at a news conference on Monday.

Which is why lawmakers that support Keystone have said they are concerned Obama would try to delay a decision until after midterms.

But if Obama doesn't set a timeline for a decision soon, a group of Senate lawmakers could propose legislation imposing a deadline for the president.

Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) said on Tuesday advocates in the Senate are close to having the number of votes needed for such legislation.

Still that legislation may not come until after the State Department finalizes its 90-day interagency review on whether the pipeline is in the nation's best interest, wrapping everything up -- if all goes as planned -- by about June.

ON TAP WEDNESDAY: The Environmental Law Institute is hosting a discussion on "Key Legal Issues Facing the Administration in 2014: Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources."

It will host former White House official Gary Guzy for a conversation on legal environment and energy issues facing the Obama administration this year. Guzy was deputy director for the White House Council on Environmental Quality until stepping down earlier this year.

Rest of Wednesday's agenda...

The House Science Committee will take a look at the science behind the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations, with a specific look at how it is applied in Texas.

Later on Wednesday, a House subpanel will examine the impacts of the Bureau of Land Management’s “red tape” on the nation’s energy production.


NEWS BITES:

Not to hammer it home, but lawmakers couldn't get enough of Keystone XL on Tuesday ...

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) dedicated time on the Senate floor to add to the number of lawmakers pressing President Obama to make a decision.

"The president says he wants to do things that don't require legislation," Barrasso said, referring to Obama's calls for a "year of action" message in the State of the Union. 

"Well, without any legislation at all the president could approve the KXL pipeline and expand opportunity for thousands of American families," Barrasso said.

And Rep. Joseph Crowley (N.Y.), vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, characterized the Republicans' repeated emphasis on issues like ObamaCare and the Keystone XL pipeline as a "Groundhog Day" scenario that threatens to create "another man-made fiscal cliff."

"They once again have tied the debt ceiling to another issue — actually two issues: A pipeline through pristine parts of America, and ... an attempt to undermine the Affordable Care Act," he said. "It's a new day [and] the same story."

Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) refuted reports that House leadership was attempting to tie approval of Keystone XL to the debt ceiling.

"Anything is possible, but there are no discussions occurring," Terry said of the pipeline.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Here's what ran on E2-Wire on Tuesday...

- Dems warn of drilling on 'treasured landscapes'
- Senators eye options to push Keystone decision
- GOP threatens bill to expand gas exports
- Inhofe warns EPA regulations could cause winter blackouts
- Boehner blasts Obama for delays on Keystone
- McConnell: Obama is trying to protect fish from water
- GOP proposes facelift for endangered species law
- Chu: Keystone pipeline decision 'political'
- Greens warn base will sit out election

 

Please send tips and comments to Laura Barron-Lopez, laurab@thehill.com.