Science committee jumps into Keystone pipeline fray

Keystone would bring oil from Alberta’s oil sands projects across the border en route to Gulf Coast refineries, and Obama is under heavy pressure from Republicans, business groups and a number of unions to approve it.

Tuesday's joint hearing of two subcommittees will explore  “scientific and environmental issues” associated with Keystone, which would also carry oil from the booming Bakken formation in North Dakota and Montana.

GOP-led panels, including the Energy and Commerce Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Natural Resources Committee have recently held hearings or moved bills aimed at pressuring Obama on Keystone.

“Tuesday’s hearing will provide Members an opportunity to consider the key scientific and environmental factors that should guide a decision on the Keystone XL proposal and to review the potential economic benefits, should the proposal move forward,” Smith said ahead of the hearing.

Witnesses Tuesday will include Lynn Helms, who directs North Dakota’s Department of Mineral Resources, and Brigham McCown, a principal at United Transportation Advisors who was a senior official in federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration under President George W. Bush.

Environmentalists strongly oppose Keystone, while Democrats are split on the project.