House Republicans to press for approval of oil sands pipeline

Alex Pourbaix, TransCanada’s president for energy and oil pipelines, will appear at a hearing of the House Energy panel's Energy and Power subcommittee.

The State Department is heading up a multi-agency environmental review of the Keystone XL proposal. The department announced in March that the project must undergo an additional layer of review.

Republicans have accused the Obama administration of slow-walking the permit, arguing that the country needs secure oil from our Canadian allies at a time of political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa.

But environmental groups and some Democrats have countered that the Keystone XL pipeline comes with significant risks. Oil sands production results in higher greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil production, the groups note. The also have raised the possibility of oil pipeline spills, pointing to a spill in Michigan last year.

Expect Republicans on the committee Monday to press the Obama administration to quickly approve the project, citing high gas prices and the country’s dependence on Middle Eastern oil. Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said this week that he hopes the bill moves to the floor of the House quickly.

The project would double the capacity of the existing Keystone pipeline, which brings oil from Canada to refineries in the Midwest, Republicans on the committee said Friday.

“Completion of the Keystone pipeline extension would more than double the current system’s capacity, bringing 1.29 million barrels per day to into [sic] U.S. markets,” committee Republicans said in a statement.

Other witnesses at Monday’s hearing include Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board Chairman Dan McFadyen, United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Assistant General President Stephen Kelly, National Wildlife Federation Senior Vice President for Conservation and Education Jeremy Symons, among others.