WASHINGTON, July 31, 2013- House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders today wrote to President Barack Obama expressing concerns over “the continued delay and politicization of the approval process for the Keystone XL pipeline.”

Members are concerned the difficulties with getting Keystone XL approved may translate to the approval of future North American energy projects, writing, “We are concerned that your most recent statements have signaled an arbitrary and abrupt shift in how our nation approves cross-border energy projects. Your recent comments have only added to the immense amount of uncertainty that currently surrounds the Keystone XL approval process, unnecessarily jeopardizing $7 billion in private investment.”

The committee members said the approval process has now surpassed 1,776 days. Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Reps. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), and Lee Terry (R-NE), author of House-passed legislation to build Keystone XL, asked the president to clarify his remarks and requested a meeting to discuss the Keystone XL project and the review process for other cross-border energy projects.

The lawmakers said the president introduced a new condition to the pipeline’s approval during his recent climate speech at Georgetown University. “The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward,” the president said.

“Our national interest will only be served if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution,” he further stated.

Specific questions to the president in the letter include:

Is there a deadline that you wish to make a determination by, regardless of the State Department’s review process?

How, specifically, will you determine if the project will or will not “significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution”?

Is this condition a new standard that will be applied as part of the NEPA [The National Environmental Policy Act] process, or in a separate determination by your office?

In your determination of whether the project will or will not “significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution”, are you taking into account the benefits of transporting crude oil by pipeline compared to other modes of transportation?  

Will this standard be applicable to all cross-boundary energy projects that presently need Presidential Permits?


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