Sen. Menendez, a Keystone pipeline foe, affirms committee hearing plan

The New Jersey Democrat acknowledged that the “prevailing” attitude on Capitol Hill favors Keystone.

Keystone would bring hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil per day extracted from Alberta’s oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries.

Menendez noted his concerns with the environmental effects of the project and said the oil could get exported from the Gulf Coast rather than used in the U.S., adding “so what does that do for us in terms of energy?”

“Unless those hurdles can be overcome, I continue to be opposed,” Menendez said.

Menendez acknowledged that his anti-Keystone stance puts him in the minority in Congress, but expressed hope that a hearing would change the politics of Keystone.

“There is unfortunately, at this point in time, a prevailing attitude in the Senate and in the Congress in support of the pipeline, and at the appropriate time, it is my hope that the hearings will help rivet the attention and understand some of the deficiencies of this project,” he said, later noting a hearing could cast a “garish light” on the project that shows its flaws.

The possibility of the Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Keystone has been a moving target.

In March, Menendez said he would hold a hearing at some point, but in April he backed off somewhat, saying he was “open to the possibility” of a hearing.

The Obama administration is weighing whether to grant a cross-border permit for Keystone, and Capitol Hill advocates of the pipeline have pushed legislation to mandate its approval.

Menendez discussed Keystone in a wide-ranging interview with Blue Jersey. Check it out here.