I recently wrote Senator Levin a letter about my opinion of the Keystone XL project.
Dear Senator Levin,
On July 28, 2013 of this year I started sharing publicly my positions and shared values of environmental organizations, since then I have received many e-mails encouraging me to continue informing the residents of West Michigan of the progress and non-reform of Government and States. Today I want to share the lack of political change to over see human rights. We have become pawns not stakeholders of land and water. Corporations are bankrupting us of a meaningful discussion and threatening the worlds security. As citizens we find ourselves embarked on a mission to stop the destruction of our right to seek protection. The lack of needed political communication speaks volumes to those currently suffering in the United States. We are stakeholders who have weighed in about Climate Change, clean water and deforestation as it pertains to pipe lines. Clearly these providential players who ignore our pleas to the biggest humanitarian and environmental crisis of our time need to be removed from office or made to suffer the very heartache of the many families who are in the way of the Keystone XL Pipe line. I am asking you and President Obama to please not allow dirty oil and human error to destroy our beautiful country. If we don’t take action soon, we are going to pay, and future generations will blame us for our inaction!
Dear Mr. Devoid:
Thank you for contacting me about a proposal for a crude oil pipeline between Canada and the United States. I appreciate hearing your views on this matter.
On September 19, 2008, TransCanada Keystone Pipeline LP submitted an application to the U.S. Department of State for a Presidential permit to construct, operate, and maintain pipeline facilities between the United States and Canada for the transportation of crude oil. This pipeline, often referred to as the Keystone XL project, would transport crude oil from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin to areas in the United States, including Oklahoma and Texas. This project would create 1,375 miles of new pipeline in the United States and 327 miles of pipeline in Canada.
The Keystone XL project is subject to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires the evaluation of the environmental impacts of projects submitted for a Presidential permit. The NEPA requires the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which includes the consideration of reasonable alternatives to the project.
On April 16, 2010, the State Department, in cooperation with several federal and state agencies, released their draft EIS on the Keystone XL project. The EIS included the mandatory review of the environmental impacts of this project, such as the effect on fish and wildlife, paleontological resources, surface water, wetlands, vegetation, air quality, oil spill risks and socioeconomics. The EIS also included several pipeline systems and route alternatives. The draft EIS was available for public comment until July 2, 2010.
In April 2011, the State Department offered a supplemental EIS for public comment and issued a final EIS in August 2011. However, a proposed change in the pipeline’s route through an area of Nebraska called for additional consideration. On November 10, 2011, the State Department announced it would seek additional information about pipeline routes and their alternatives prior to determining whether or not the project is in the nation’s best interest. The State Department estimated that a supplemental environmental review for a new route alternative could have been finalized by early 2013.
Some argue that any delay in moving forward with this project would hinder job creation, while others argue that moving forward more quickly would cause risk to the environment. Congress passed the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act, which became law on December 23, 2011 (P.L.112-78). This law gave the Administration 60 days to either grant a permit for the pipeline project or provide a justification for why a permit would not be granted.
In accordance with P.L.112-78, on January 18, 2012, President Obama concurred with the recommendation of the State Department that the permit not be granted at this time to provide the agency with an adequate amount of time to complete the environmental review and full assessment of the pipeline. I agreed with the President’s decision. Whether we proceed with the pipeline in the future will depend on the additional environmental review of a resubmitted TransCanada permit application. Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson remarked that the President’s decision “allows for a path to move forward in a responsible manner, without being rushed and allowing appropriate reviews at both the state and federal levels to proceed.”
Recently, on May 4, 2012, TransCanada submitted a new application for a Presidential permit for the Keystone XL project that would change the segment of the route through Nebraska. The new application is subject to the same review as the initial application, and the State Department must determine if granting the permit for the proposed line is in the nation’s best interest. Currently, the State Department estimates that the review process for the application will be completed within the first quarter of 2013.
Many legislative proposals have been introduced to change the federal permitting authority for the Keystone XL project. For example, the Senate rejected an amendment to the Surface Transportation bill (S.1813) that would have circumvented the normal review process of the pipeline and would have forced the approval of the project regardless of its environmental impact and without knowing the final route of the pipeline. I opposed this amendment, and it was rejected by the Senate by a vote of 56 to 42. Another amendment offered to S.1813 would have prohibited exportation of crude oil transported by the pipeline unless waived by the President and would have required the use of U.S. iron, steel, and manufactured goods in the pipeline’s construction. I voted in favor of this amendment. Unfortunately, it was rejected by the Senate by a vote of 34 to 64.
I will keep your views in mind as the Keystone XL project is debated by the Senate. Thank you for contacting me.