Sunday, March 22, 2015

Keystone XL Pipeline

The Fight Continues

Weds, March 4, 2:50pm ET: The Senate vote to override President Obama's Keystone XL Pipeline veto has failed, falling four votes shy.

When Congress is in session, the President may, within the 10-day period, exercise a regular veto by sending the unsigned bill back to the chamber of Congress from which it originated along with a veto message stating his reasons for rejecting it. Currently, the president must veto the bill in its entirety.

The veto had nothing to do with the substantive issues. While I hope not, the President may eventually approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. The review process is not complete. The point made by the veto is that the authority to decide on an international pipeline rests with the Executive Branch and not the Legislative Branch.

President Obama repeatedly told Congress not to waste its time passing legislation on the Keystone XL oil pipeline – if they did, he’d veto it. Lawmakers would be better off investing their energies in bills that could become law.

The Republican-controlled House and Senate, evidently eager to help the economy in Alberta, Canada, ignored the warnings and passed their proposal.

Keystone XL Pipeline Bill Veto Text


I am returning herewith without my approval S. 1, the "Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act." Through this bill, the United States Congress attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest.

The Presidential power to veto legislation is one I take seriously. But I also take seriously my responsibility to the American people. And because this act of Congress conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest -- including our security, safety, and environment -- it has earned my veto.


 What Happened?

In 2004, House Republicans passed a bill that made it clear “farmland owners need to have long-term certainty regarding their property rights in order to make the investment decisions to commit land to these uses.” The bill went on t
o say, “the use of eminent domain to take farmland and other rural property for economic development threatens liberty, rural economies, and the economy of the United States.”


Here is the issue. The pipeline, while important, is less so.

Under existing federal procedure, because the Keystone XL Pipeline would cross the Canadian-US border, construction of the pipeline requires a Presidential Permit, issued by the State Depar

A decision to deny or issue such a permit must be based on a determination that a project would serve the national interest, considering potential impacts on the environment, the economy, energy security, foreign policy, and other factors.

The Republican-controlled US Congress has attempted to circumvent this procedure and force the President to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, relying upon the provision of the US Constitution that empowers Congress to regulate commerce with foreign nations.

This is the issue now before the President. It has nothing to do with the substance of the matter. The issue is separation of powers.


 I find the legal issues interesting -- especially how the power with respect to issues such as a pipeline that crosses the US border appears to rest with the executive branch (the President) notwithstanding the express constitutional delegation to the legislative branch (Congress) to regulate commerce with foreign nations.

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