As the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power takes up legislation Wednesday to force approval of the Keystone XL pipeline extension, the bill raises a key question: can Congress wrest the Keystone decision away from President Obama?
The answer: Neither side knows exactly, but depending on the legislative language, Congress could very well pull it off.
The Northern Route Approval Act, the subject of Wednesday’s hearing, would grant TransCanada a permit to build a 1,179-mile pipeline between Hardisty, Alberta, and Steele City, Okla., to ship crude oil from Canada’s oil sands region. The company is moving ahead with the project’s 485-mile southern leg — known as the Gulf Coast Project, between Steele City and Port Arthur, Tex. — which is two-thirds built and has all the necessary federal permits.