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Legal Daily News Feature

Up in Arms Over the Keystone XL Pipeline By Rebecca E. Neely In a move that’s shaping up to be yet another classic case of the tail wagging the dog, Republicans have proposed what many are calling ‘questionable’ legislation to get the nearly 1,700 mile Keystone XL pipeline approved, following President Obama’s rejection last week of TransCanada’s application for the construction of said pipeline.

01/31/12 But that might be okay. And, it appears it might be the only way to get it done, in what many Americans are deeming a ‘no-brainer’. First of all, in a nutshell, the Keystone Pipeline System is a system that would deliver synthetic crude oil from northeastern Alberta, Canada to various destinations in the United States. Obama rejected it, saying the imposed deadline of February 21 did not allow for a thorough assessment of the impact of the pipeline on health and environment. Enter pros and cons. The pros? An alternative source of oil. Jobs – lots of them, as many as 20,000, some say. The cons? Environmental groups are concerned about the effect on water supplies; some are calling the oil ‘dirty’, and that the process to extract it requires enormous energy, and that it will contribute to greenhouse gas emissions said to cause global warming. The Keystone XL extension, first proposed in 2008, has been delayed, and waylaid and generally been tossed around like a hot potato amongst Congress, a variety of heavy hitter commissions, and boards; it’s even crossed administrations. It appears that Obama’s position is, essentially, none at all, and clearly, politically motivated, in the face of the upcoming presidential election. However, it seems the age old Rush song ‘Freewill’ lyrics, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice”, sums it up nicely. And that choice, at least for

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Obama, is to conveniently delay the decision until 2013 – after the election. For, no matter what he does, he’ll fall out of favor with organized labor and environmentalist groups – both of which provided key support in his 2008 bid for the presidency. Oddly enough, or perhaps not so oddly, the interests of the American people seem to have been left out of the equation. Once again. That being said, now enter the ‘questionable’ legislation, which on many levels, seems to be a clever ‘tit for tat’ workaround; a match for the ‘questionable’ tactics that have so far been employed to delay the construction of the pipeline. Nebraska Republican Lee Terry proposes the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) should be required to issue a permit for the $7 billion pipeline within 30 days after receiving the application, given that the project is considered safe. Put another way, the bill would transfer authority over the project to FERC, and in essence, leave Obama out of the loop. Kerri-Ann Jones, assistant secretary of State for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, was quoted as having said at a House subcommittee hearing in Washington in recent days that Terry’s legislation “appears to override foreign-policy and national-security considerations.” She was also quoted as saying the bill “imposes narrow time constraints and creates automatic mandates that prevent an informed decision”. Let the wagging begin – or rather, continue. With any luck, it’ll soon tire out the dog.

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Up in Arms Over the Keystone XL Pipeline