Congressman calls for release of agencies' views on Keystone XL pipeline

U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, recently asked the State Department to release statements from other federal agencies concerning their views on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Chaffetz wants access to statements regarding whether or not officials from various federal agencies believe the Keystone XL pipeline project would be in the national interest -- statements that the Obama administration has yet to release, citing confidentiality issues.

The State Department has received projected impact statements from several departments, including Justice, Interior, Commerce, Transportation, Energy, Homeland Security and the Environmental Protection Agency.

In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Chaffetz said, "If the department remains unwilling to work with the committee on a voluntary basis, we are left with no alternative but to consider the use of compulsory process to obtain the materials we requested.”

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would transport up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta, Canada, to refineries in the Midwest and on the Gulf Coast, while creating approximately 42,000 jobs, most of which would be temporary construction jobs to build the pipeline. Fewer potential permanent jobs would be created.

Keystone XL supporters have criticized President Obama for what they see as stalling on granting the presidential permit required to build the pipeline, while the project has drawn  strong criticism from many scientists and environmental activists.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has criticized the Obama administration for inaction.

“Keystone XL has emerged as a symbol of the president’s failed energy policies,” the Energy and Commerce Committee said in a statement posted on its website. “Instead of saying 'yes' to thousands of jobs and greater energy security, the president has so far delayed and dodged a final decision.”

The State Department issued its Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on the Keystone XL pipeline in 2014. The statement said the project has the potential to result in significantly dangerous environmental impacts.

The environmental-impact statement said the oil that would be transported by the pipeline would come from Alberta’s tar sands. The oil extracted there burns dirtier than conventional oil, creating 17 percent more greenhouse gases.

The statement also said the pipeline could endanger ground and surface water, as well as wildlife and wetlands. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline could affect the habitats of 14 protected species, including some listed as critically endangered.

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