Fixing the screw-up is something Terry says hopes he can work out with Speaker John Boehner. Not that it really matters. The entire package of myopic House legislation has little chance of clearing the Senate, much less getting the president's signature.
Terry introduced his legislation—the North American Energy Access Act—last November. The bill would require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve an application for the pipeline from builder TransCanada within 30 days of receiving it. If FERC did not move that quickly, the application would be automatically approved.
But, as reported by Andrew Restuccia, an aide to Terry said that, in the rush to get the amendment approved Thursday, four crucial lines in the wording went missing, adding "another layer of approval that we did not intend." Terry hopes to add the amendment to another piece of legislation, the aide said.
The Keystone XL pipeline, problematic for numerous reasons, including inevitable leaks along its path from the Alberta tar sands to Port Arthur on the Texas Gulf Coast, became a major focus for both regional and national protesters last summer. Opposition has linked ranchers and farmers in Nebraska and Texas, First Nations people in Canada and the United States, and environmental advocates determined to change policies in order to deal with the impacts of global warming.
In January, President Obama refused to give in to Republican demands that he approve the pipeline within 60 days. But he left the door open for TransCanada to reapply with a slightly altered route. That alteration is being sought to meet concerns about the pipeline's potential impact on the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides irrigation and drinking water to eight heartland states. The president has already approved a leg of the pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma, to Port Arthur. Many environmental advocates expect him to approve the leg from Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska, as well.
The State Department issued a statement last week saying it would only provide a supplemental environmental impact statement on the pipeline for the new application. That means the wholly inadequate Final EIS issued for the original application in August 2011 would be allowed to stand. Among the many issues: Burning the oil the pipeline would transport would generate polluting emissions that are the equivalent of four million automobiles.
Since Obama's rejection of the original TransCanada route, Republicans have used it as a cudgel against the White House, pounding on it with bogus claims about tens of thousands of jobs that would be generated and generally presenting it as an example of the administration's allegedly backward energy policies. In the latest iteration, National Review Online calls the pipeline a "winning issue." NRO is urging Mitt Romney to take another bus tour along its route, and meet not only with citizens but also with several Democratic lawmakers who support the project, including Sen. Jon Tester of Montana.