Monday, March 19, 2012

Democrats float bill to keep Keystone XL oil in U.S.

House Democrats on Friday introduced legislation that would require oil from the Keystone XL pipeline to remain in the U.S. if it’s ever built, amid their concerns Gulf Coast refineries would export some crude after processing it.

The bill’s introduction comes as Republicans look for legislative ways to approve the tar-sands crude pipeline from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries.

“American taxpayers are assuming all of the risk for this pipeline, and TransCanada and other nations are getting the rewards. At the very least, we should have it written in stone that the Keystone oil will stay here in the United States and give American customers some of the benefits, and not just all of the costs,” Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass, ranking member on the House Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement.

TransCanada Corp. was denied a permit by the Obama administration on Jan. 18, which said a congressionally imposed Feb. 21 decision deadline wouldn’t have provided enough time for a new route around a drinking-water aquifer to be identified and studied.

The bill would allow the domestic requirement be waived only if the president determines that selling the oil or refined products to other countries wouldn’t increase costs for refineries and customers or cause U.S. imports from hostile or instable regimes to rise.

Republicans have long claimed Keystone XL would bring oil to the U.S. from a friendly neighbor, improving energy security. But the claim that Keystone XL would be an “export pipeline” has formed one of the main arguments of congressional and environmentalist opponents of the pipeline, who claim the GOP argument is flawed.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said he opposes GOP provisions approving Keystone XL in large part because the pipeline would send oil out of the U.S.

The American Petroleum Institute, a leading oil-industry lobbying group, said any effort to restrict oil-market economics amounts to “a North Korean style model of economics and has no place here in America.”

“While most of the oil from Canada would likely be used in the United States, should there be excess supplies, free-market economics should dictate how those resources are utilized, not one elected member of Congress,” API Chief Economist John Felmy said in a statement. “These resources will be refined in the United States, through a pipeline that is hopefully built here, and both prospects will create a lot of American jobs, increase our energy security, and provide revenue for our government.”

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