* Bill would set Nov. 1 deadline for decision on pipeline
* EPA has asked State for more extensive review of project
* Republicans say Obama admin stonewalling project
By Ayesha Rascoe
WASHINGTON, June 15 A Congressional panel
approved legislation on Wednesday aimed at speeding permitting
for a proposed $7 billion pipeline project that would transport
Canadian oil sands crude to the U.S. Gulf coast.
A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee greenlighted a
bill that would force the Obama administration to make a
decision on TransCanada's (TRP.TO) planned Keystone XL
pipeline by November 1.
Lawmakers on the Republican-controlled panel accused the
Obama administration of needlessly stonewalling this project,
which they say would increase U.S. energy security.
"With high gas prices, high unemployment, and clear threats
to national security, a project such as Keystone XL should be a
top priority for any administration," Energy and Commerce
chairman Fred Upton said.
The bill still has a long way before it actually becomes
law and will likely face an uphill battle with Democrats
controlling the Senate and the White House.
The project, which requires approval from the State
Department because it crosses the Canada-U.S. border, has run
into stiff opposition from green groups concerned about the
environmental impacts of the pipeline and the carbon-intensive
nature of oil sands production.
After the Environmental Protection Agency criticized the
department's initial favorable environmental analysis of the
project, the department issued a supplemental review, delaying
the pipeline project. [ID:nN15298301]
Earlier this month, the EPA also raised objections to that
review, asking for more analysis from the State Department that
could further delay the pipeline. [ID:nN07101222]
Democrats on the House panel said the "arbitrary" deadline
set by the bill would limit public input and may curtail the
involvement of other government agencies in evaluating the
They also pointed out that the State Department has already
pledged to make a decision on the project before the end of the
The panel rejected an amendment from Congressman Bobby
Rush, the top Democrat on the subcommittee, that would have set
a deadline for a decision on the project in January 2012.
(Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Alden Bentley)