Top Senate Dem might conduct oversight of Keystone pipeline

Asked directly whether he has a hearing planned on the topic, Wyden said, “Let me have a chance to talk to senators about those issues before I make any proclamations.”

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The comments come after Sen. John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenLobbying World Worried GOP views Trump trade war with angst Conservatives fear trade war could cripple tax cuts message MORE (R-N.D.) told reporters last week that he was talking to Wyden about a potential hearing on Keystone.

Hoeven said he was willing to shelve a planned amendment to energy-efficiency legislation that would force a vote on Keystone in exchange for a hearing. TransCanada Corp.’s project is awaiting a federal decision for a cross-border permit needed to complete the pipeline’s northern leg.

While Hoeven’s concession on the amendment front could help Wyden move that bill, it also might give the Oregon Democrat a chance to raise concerns he has about the pipeline.

Wyden has long said he believes the oil sands Keystone would haul to the Gulf Coast are destined for markets abroad, rather than for domestic consumption — a claim he reiterated Tuesday.

“You’ve got basically half of the refineries in the Gulf Coast area essentially foreign-controlled. And they’ve already indicated that they want to export. And a bunch of the American-owned refineries want to export. So I’ve been concerned for some time about the export question,” he said.

Keystone’s supporters, such as Hoeven, contend the export aspect is overblown. They say supplies from the pipeline would offset imports of Venezuelan oil, strengthening U.S. energy security in the process.

Wyden on Tuesday praised Hoeven's willingness to withhold tacking an amendment on Keystone to the energy-efficiency legislation sponsored by Sens. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSenators pledge to pursue sanctions against Turkey over imprisoned American pastor Dems walk tightrope on Pompeo nomination Menendez rips characterization of Pompeo as 'nation's top diplomat' MORE (D-N.H.) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanTax rules will be subject to more OMB review under new memo Ending sex trafficking tomorrow requires preventing child abuse today Doctors bristle at push for opioid prescription limits MORE (R-Ohio).

Wyden has been working closely with the sponsors to limit controversial amendments to the bill, which sunk a similar version last year as Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidGOP poised to advance rules change to speed up Trump nominees Dems walk tightrope on Pompeo nomination The Memo: Teens rankle the right with gun activism MORE (D-Nev.) proved reluctant to call it on the floor.

Wyden said Reid has been "very cooperative," but hasn't yet indicated when Shaheen-Portman might be considered in the Senate.