House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told Fox News correspondent Chris Wallace this morning on Fox News Sunday that “all options are on the table” about the decision to extend the payroll tax cut, set to expire in late February, which may be attached to an approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Last week, President Obama rejected a permit for the construction of the pipeline that Republicans had forced him to decide about before election season in November. In December, Republicans added a provision in the temporary payroll tax cut bill which states that President Obama’s administration has until February 21, 2012 to determine the fate of the Keystone XL Pipeline, a proposed pipeline that extends 1,700 miles from Alberta to refineries in the Gulf Coast.
“The Keystone XL Pipeline is the prime example of a shovel ready project that has been through every approval process here in Washington D.C.” Rep. Boehner said.
When questioned if he was planning to attach the approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline to another extension of the payroll tax cut, Rep. Bohner explained, “Every option is on the table. We’ll do everything we can to make sure the Keystone Pipeline is approved.”
Rep. Boehner claimed that an approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline will result in 20,000 direct U.S. jobs and 100,ooo indirect jobs instead of forcing Canada to run the pipeline to the Pacific Ocean and sell the oil to the Chinese. However, the State Department estimates only 5,000- 6,000 jobs will be created from the pipline deal. There is no clear consensus about how many jobs will truly be created from the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Congress Research Service
Meanwhile, a new development in Congress may allow the Keystone Pipeline to move forward. The Congressional Research Service released a study that concludes Congress has the right to legislate permits for cross border oil pipelines. This new development will allow lawmakers to draft legislation to overturn President Obama’s decision to delay the pipeline project.
North Dakota Senator John Hoeven (R) spoke about the need to get the Keystone XL Pipeline approved. “We’ll advance new legislation now this week. We’ll work on it this week and over the next weeks and come back and try to get it approved by Congress so we can get the pipeline project going” he said.
Even if the legislation is approved by Congress, President Obama still has the power to veto the new legislation.
President Obama and Democrats are placed in an awkward position concerning the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline. Democrats are feeling squeezed between two of their primary interest groups: environmentalists and unions.
Environmentalists are unhappy about the environmental impact from the pipeline and the process that is used for extracting the oil from the tar sands which requires massive amounts of water and energy. Concerns have also been raised about the one of the pipeline’s proposed routes through the environmentally sensitive Sands Hill region in Nebraska, an area that encompasses the Ogallala Aquifer. On the other spectrum, unions are interested in creating more good paying American jobs.