Rep. Barton says State Department reasoning an “insult” to America

A top State Department official defended the Obama administration’s rationale for denying a permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline against attacks on Wednesday from Republicans who say the decision was politically motivated and cost jobs.

Assistant Secretary of State Kerri-Ann Jones, the point person on Keystone XL, said a Feb. 21 decision deadline imposed by Congress didn’t provide the department enough time to assess alternative routes avoiding the environmentally sensitive Sandhills region of Nebraska, which is home to a drinking-water aquifer.

“Without that information we’d also not be able to look at other factors, socioeconomic factors, environmental factors, as well as foreign policy and energy security,” Jones told the House Energy and Commerce and Committee’s Energy and Power Subcommittee. “It was not based on the merits of the project.”

Obama has said he agreed and let the department deny the permit. TransCanada Corp. has said it will reapply.

Republican supporters of the pipeline from Canada’s tar-sands region to Gulf Coast refineries were angered with last week’s decision and they vowed to pursue legislation to ensure the pipeline gets built. At the tense hearing, they said the department, which has jurisdiction over border-crossing pipelines, had studied the pipeline for more than three years.

“We fought and won World War II in less time than it’s taken so far to evaluate this project,” Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, told Jones. “With all due respect, it is an insult to the American people to say that you need more time.”

Republicans won the deadline in a deal last month to extend the payroll tax cut by two months. They say the pipeline would bring needed jobs and oil. Opponents say that the jobs claims are inflated and the pipeline poses pollution risks, and that it would reroute oil already imported from Canada for export after refining.

Republicans said the department’s environmental review of the pipeline from August raised few concerns. They noted the payroll tax law deemed no additional study was necessary and gave Nebraska enough time to plot a new route through the state.

But Jones said the review was done before residents raised concerns about the proposed route through the Sandhills.

“We listened to these views, many actually supportive of the pipeline but stressing that the route needed to be moved,” Jones said.

In November 2011, just days after 10,000 pipeline opponents encircled the White House in protest, the department decided to postpone the decision, originally expected by the end of the year, until early 2013 over those concerns. The Feb. 21 deadline for determining whether the pipeline serves the national interest “was not enough time to complete the work and the analysis needed … especially given that the route had not been finalized,” Jones said.

Under grilling from Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Lewisville, Jones said the White House didn’t influence the department’s recommendation.

But Republicans insisted the pipeline’s time has come.

The Terry Bill

Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., is sponsoring a bill giving a different agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 30 days to approve the pipeline and deeming it approved if the body doesn’t act.

“It’s a false excuse for using state of Nebraska as the reason for the denial,” Terry said.

The bill faces narrow odds of becoming law, but some Republicans have said they could try tying Keystone provisions to other legislation, such as a longer-term extension of the payroll tax break.

Terry’s bill “imposes narrow time constraints and creates automatic mandates that prevent an informed decision,” Jones said in criticizing the proposal. “We also feel it overrides foreign-policy and national-security considerations implicated by a cross-border permit, which are properly assessed by the State Department.”

“The legislation raises serious questions about existing legal authorities,” she added in written testimony.

Jeffrey Wright, director of FERC’s Office of Energy Projects, warned his agency doesn’t have experience with siting of oil pipelines or authority over it. He added the timeline for FERC in Terry’s bill “does not allow sufficient time to build an adequate record to arrive at a defensible decision.”

Democrats, including some who support Keystone XL, blasted the bill.

House Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Henry Waxman, D-Calif., calling Keystone XL a GOP earmark, said even if it brings new oil to the U.S. it would still be vulnerable to price spikes resulting from supply shocks in the global oil market.

“We are here on another proverbial fishing expedition by the majority party again to slice up federal regulations and oversight to help industry get what they want, and the American public be damned in the process,” said Subcommittee Ranking Member Bobby Rush, D-Ill.

Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston, said he still supported Keystone XL but couldn’t support Terry’s bill.

“I don’t think we need to be rewriting a long-standing process over one pipeline,” Green said.

Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, D-San Antonio, said he feels “time is of the essence and we need to move forthwith, but not to rush it.” He said other committee members’ claim the pipeline would lower U.S. gasoline prices is false because some of the refined oil would go for export to the highest bidder.

The committee didn’t discuss a separate proposal from Rep. Ted Poe, R-Humble, who introduced a bill yesterday that would immediately approve the pipeline via Congress.

Present in the audience were several people donning referee uniforms, which some committee members took note of.

They may have been pipeline foes who took part yesterday in an anti-Keystone XL protest, in which environmental activists donning referee uniforms sought to “blow the whistle” on a Congress they feel is in the pocket of oil companies.

“We’re looking to have the ruling on the field confirmed again and again,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., joked in welcoming them to the room.

Mike Linder, director of Nebraska’s Department of Environmental Quality, was invited to appear at the hearing but was scratched at the last minute. Terry blamed the State Department, saying that it needlessly requested federal officials appear on their own panel and that House vote two hours into the hearing prevented the committee from having another panel with Linder.

The State Department said it’s a long-standing convention to have federal officials appear on their own panel, and the decision not to have Linder appear was the committee’s.



  1. Trail_Tramp

    The State Department has had 3-years to work over the permit. This was nothing but a pre-election political bone for the tree-huggers.

  2. jimmydwight

    Who needs clean water? Right?


    We, the people, are sick and tired of big companies polluting and ruining our environment.

  4. lostbcgirl

    Glad our representatives are fighting for us since the administration is not! Let your Rep know you want him to support this bill!!

  5. Diogenes

    Wouldn’t be nice if Congress held this witch in contempt and jailed her? Maybe then we could start deregulating so there’d jobs and fuel and food and stuff instead of a ‘pristine environment’ where no one can work or survive. Damned enviro-terrorists.

  6. Oil_Pays_My_Taxes

    You morons automatically and wrongfully think a pipeline will immediately ruin the environment. Get real…do you REALLY think they want anything happening to their product and have to spend the millions upon millions to clean it up?? Go Keystone, the water will be fine.

  7. Peter

    “Who needs clean water?”
    My first question to you – Do you realize that the oil will be moving through a pipe and not a ditch?

  8. systek

    This will affect some Americans with jobs and the route it takes from Canada to Houston. Healthcare “reform” will affect ALL Americans. Yet, Obamacare was rushed and passed in how many months?

  9. Robert F.

    TransCanada has an atrocious safety record. Sure they want the most of the oil to get to Texas ports so they can sell it to China and India but they factor in spillage as a cost of doing business.

    They do just like BP and run equipment to failure before replacing it. Its cheaper for them to do it that way than it is to do whats right.

  10. breeze8201

    How do you think the oil is being moved now? Not at all? Try by roads and by rail, so much safer than actually being contained below the ground in pipes and concrete wouldn’t you agree?

  11. Bryan

    Stopping the project is unwise. To those that think the environment would be impacted by spills, I suggest you research the thousands of pipelines that criss cross the US (you might have one of them running through your yard), and look at the safety history. Pipleines allow bigger volume, and that means bigger profits. Every hour a pipeline isn’t pumping means thousands if not millions of dollars lost, so they are very well maintained, making spills extremely rare.

    The oil will continue to be transported to the refineries by rail. Look up and compare the rail road safety record to that of the pipelie operators.

    Not to put our rail road operators in a bad light, my point is simply that it would be a lot safer to transport the oil via pipeline vs. tanker cars.

  12. It is about time

    The congress should make it clear to the bureaucrats that the final decision is with congress. A big cut in agency funding should make the point.

  13. BozoObama


    Who needs gasoline? Right?

    Hundreds of miles of pipelines already exist int the US Is you’re water dirty now? Why would we not have clean water with 1 more pipeline?

  14. Good grief

    How do you think the oil is being moved now? Not at all? Try by roads and by rail, so much safer than actually being contained below the ground in pipes and concrete wouldn’t you agree?
    Why would anyone agree with a halfwit statement like that?

  15. postpunk77

    To everyone who does NOT have this pipeline running over your freshwater source: THE REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR OF NEBRASKA DID NOT WANT THIS PIPELINE TO HAPPEN. Find an alternate route. That is all that is being requested. The oil refined from this EXTREMELY dirty source isn’t going to be used here, anyway. It’s going to be sold overseas.
    Cornell university even said that TransCanada trumped up the amount of jobs that would be created just to make this deal look sweeter to the legislators who have now turned this into political fodder.
    Want to see how the right-wing media escalates these numbers for their own propagandizing?
    And if you DO watch that video, Fox News even SHOWS that there’s ALREADY a pipeline that does NOT go through this sensitive area.
    Why don’t they branch off of that one? Oh right, cause then it wouldn’t be big bad Obama and environmentalists to blame.
    Do some research before you jump down the throats of people who want to make sure that their water doesn’t have toxic oil in it.

  16. Adler

    Maybe someone could explain how a DepState weenie is capable of evaluating an EIA in a proper scientific fashion?

  17. Dan X. McGraw

    Postpunk, some of your info is a bit off.

    Nebraska Dave Heineman has supported the pipeline, but he has asked for an alternate route. The Keystone XL is an extension of the existing Keystone pipeline, which does run outside of the Nebraska aquifer. The Keystone XL pipeline — under the current route — would be a more direct route between the tar sand fields in Alberta and the refineries in Port Arthur.

  18. Dan X. McGraw

    Breeze8201, the numbers wouldn’t agree with your statement. Pipeline leaks about 1,100 times per year, but ships and trucks are between 3,000-4,000 per year. Rail is a close second at 1,500, according to the National Response Center.

  19. spendmoney

    More Mid East oil via the Canadian pipeline. We will not see any price drop at the pump due to this cheap oil but instead…..will see continued high gasoline prices. The oil companies though will rip the profits…..low cost oil sold to in the US market at Mid East prices. By the way….when is the cheap oil from the Gulf going to start hitting the refineries? That oil has been flowing since 1950′s and still hasn’t gotten to the refineries to start lowering our gas prices?

  20. Trail_Tramp

    Statement from Charles Drevna, President of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Assoc… “President Obama has given in to political pressure from extremist opponents of fossil fuels and turned his back on American consumers who need fuel, American workers who need jobs, and America’s economic and national security. It is incredibly unwise of President Obama to reject a steady, secure and reliable supply of oil from our close friend and neighbor Canada at a time when Iran is threatening to choke off a significant portion of global oil supplies.”

  21. Peeper

    “We the people” love $3.50 per gallon. Hows that elec car going for ya now?

  22. bob




  23. Signal2Noise

    The fact is that the only refining source for this crude is to build a pipeline through the US. It can’t go west through Alberta and BC due to First Nation issues (the indigenous tribes of Canada), so the only other viable option is south. It will happen, it just shouldn’t go through the Sandhills aquifer. Yes, the government had 3 years to look at in and in looking at it and working with TC, an alternate route was never solidified. Placing a 2-month ultimatum on the State Dept’s decision was foolish (aren’t all ultimatums?). TC has only one option, redesign a different route and reapply. I’d be willing to bet anyone on this board that it will be accepted by years’ end. The potential jobs will come, of course, no where near TC’s numbers and what most people should realize, this crude isn’t for primary use in the US and will be shipped overseas. Even if it did all stay here, it wouldn’t do diddly for “US energy security” – whatever the heck that means – and it would amount to fractions of percentages of US consumption.

  24. LR

    The project has not been killed. The President encouraged TC to refile with the alternatives that would satisfy the Neb governor and others. Some of the same posters here were outraged when gulf drilling was temporarily halted and permit requests were carefully screened for approval. It’s not business be damned nor the environment be damned. It’s a matter of finding a balance between the two.

  25. pacificoil

    Will domestic oil not have access to the XL? I have read there will be access points for Bakken oil up the line as well as domestic access in Cushing. Is there any clarification out there? If this is the case, how does this not benefit American citizens? Won’t this help ease the gap between WTI and Brent prices by reducing the bottleneck at Cushing? Increased WTI prices would mean higher rates of return on future projects, therefore further development of domestic energy sources. Am I way off here?

    And before Postpunk goes jumping down my throat, yes the environment and jobs created are real concerns. However, there are multiple studies done on the aquifer showing how the impact could be catastrophic or minimal from a leak – just depends on who you want to listen to. As for the jobs…I for one think 6,000 jobs is better than zero jobs, but that’s just me.

  26. Coug78

    Obama has given in to his RR owning Billionare Buffett, whose secretary pays more taxes than he does. Obama’s words not mine.

  27. Coug78

    The argument is over Nebraska which is home to Obama’s buddy Warren Buffett the owner of BNSF RR which stands to lose if a pipeline is built. Also Nebraska is the headquarters to Union Pacific RR the nations largest.
    This is Political cronism at the highest level.

  28. Jackalope

    So according to detractors, it should be denied because it may create “only” a few thousand jobs instead of 20,000? My, I didn’t realize our economy was soooooo good that we could be choosy with job creation. Plus, it would require zero tax dollars to create these jobs, unlike the billions in taxpayer money spent on “green jobs” that have disappeared or never materialized.

  29. Jackalope

    The biggest source of oil pollution in freshwater is from cars. All those spots you see in parking lots and driveways will run off everytime there’s rain. The aquifer in Neb stands a greater threat from pollution from fertilizers, including manure.

  30. RedHerring

    Trail_Tramp, here’s another quote for you:
    TransCanada’s 2008 Permit Application states “Existing markets for Canadian heavy crude, principally PADD II [U.S. Midwest], are currently oversupplied, resulting in price discounting for Canadian heavy crude oil. Access to the USGC [U.S. Gulf Coast] via the Keystone XL Pipeline is expected to strengthen Canadian crude oil pricing in [the Midwest] by removing this oversupply. This is expected to increase the price of heavy crude to the equivalent cost of imported crude. The resultant increase in the price of heavy crude is estimated to provide an increase in annual revenue to the Canadian producing industry in 2013 of US $2 billion to US $3.9 billion.”

    The whole point of XL is to get the tar oil to Gulf Coast refiners FOR EXPORT. Do you honestly think TransCanada wants to do this so petro prices in the US go DOWN? How does increasing the market and cost of oil we already buy help our energy and national security? Global markets for a fungible commodity, how do they work?

  31. Texassm

    Dan X. McGraw
    January 25, 2012, 11:29 AM
    Breeze8201, the numbers wouldn’t agree with your statement. Pipeline leaks about 1,100 times per year, but ships and trucks are between 3,000-4,000 per year. Rail is a close second at 1,500, according to the National Response Center.

    Can you quantify the amount of oil spilled through the pipeline compared to those from truck and rail?

  32. We fought and won World War II in less time than the Iraq War. Where’s the oil from that crummy investment???

  33. CAD1936

    I’m so gland there are the industry spokesmen keeping us updated on what the unbiased National Petroleum and Refiners association has to say. They care so much about the American worker and the American environment?

  34. TexasForever

    This is not about a pipeline. Like all things Obama this is another nail in the U.S. coffin. Obama INTENDS to destoy this country in whatever fashion he can. He KNOWS exactly what he is doing. READ his two books. He makes no secret of his contempt and hatred for this country.
    Make no mistake about it…..Barack HUESSIN Obama is the ENEMY WITHIN!

  35. Theallknowingone

    Shouldn’t Barton be appologizing to BP?

  36. olddispatcher

    Looks like the Republicans in Nebraska are beginning to feel the heat. Right wingers nationwide wail about Obama this and Obama that until they are told to look into the route issues in Nebraska and to ask the Nebraska Republicans, “What seems to be the hold up?”

    Because when they do look into the Nebraska route problems they find that this is the hold up, and Nebraska Republicans are not happy that this is coming to light. It sets up the question of what is the difference between them and Obama with the answer being: Nothing.

    A few weeks ago TransCanada issued a press release where they said they had come up with new Nebraska routes and would submit them to the state. Approval was not be expected anytime soon, but hopefully with-in a few months. So will Barton now call Nebraska’s regulations on this ‘an insult’?

    And for Republicans to say they will introduce a bill that will force the line to be built just makes them look stupid since this would pit National Republicans against State Republicans.

    As soon as Nebraska gives its’ OK this thing can start laying pipe. I don’t know how many jobs it will create during its’ construction (One estimate say 250,000! I don’t think that many people were required to dig the Panama Canal) but it will bring work to our refineries and I am all for that.

  37. cokerguy

    Robert F, have you looked at a map lately? If they wanted to sell it to Asia the wouldn’t put it in a pipeline to Houston only to stick it on a ship for Asia, they would do that out of Vancouver. It is true that after the oil is refined some of the gasoline, diesel, and other products might get exported because there is a better price abroad. Either way, American workers and American companies are the ones doing the refining and its not as if increasing exports for the first time in 20 years is a bad thing for the country.

  38. Toemas

    This pipeline isn’t just about moving Canadian oil, they will be moving oil out of Bakken with this. As stated by others they are currently moving most of this oil by rail, 4,000 total loads last year and going up to 70,000 loads a year within 10 years. Each load is over 15,000 gallons. They are traveling over the same rivers and water ways the pipeline would, which by history the pipeline is safer.

  39. James

    Everybody connected to this administration is totally insane and incompetent.

  40. chiefdecoy

    Personally, I find party politics, and party puppets,,,,,”insulting”…..

  41. Sarah
  42. Nuffsaid500

    Republican Congressmen Joe Barton and Ted Poe are as hostile to, Republicans seeking a good deal for Texas, as they are to left-wing loonies. Oh, and the feeling is RAPIDLY becoming mutual.

    The MUTUAL hostility is escalating between Texas Republican voters and the Republican delegation from Texas. I would not PeeOn them, if their guts were on fire. We KNOW who you are working for, and it is NOT us. And more importantly it is NOT Texas.

    There is NO indication that the Keystone XL pipeline is good for Texas: None, zip, zilch … nada. You guys have out-kicked your coverage. So have fun with the Greenies. Right now I don’t like you or trust you any more than Jane Fonda.

  43. joseph cotton

    0 is destroying the very fabric that holds America together.

  44. Sterling Minor

    Whatever the merits or lack of merits of approval or disapproval, Barton’s statement is inappropriate. Our representatives need to speak better than that.

  45. hryder

    Those of us who have actually experienced visiting the Alaska Pipeline and its related lack of almost any of the negatives that were predicted if its construction and operation were permitted are amazed at the ignorance and lack of objectivity on the part of those opposed to its existence. I am convinced that the same is true of the proposed Canada/Texas sand-oil pipeline. Additionally, there also are current economic, employment, and logical thought problems of which the currently inept President displays such ineptness in pursuing solutions other than those historically known to be failures.

  46. Owl_of_Bellaire

    Actually, Joe Barton is an insult to the American people.

  47. Jim

    An oil spill at the surface would not affect groundwater in the Ogallala Aquifer. To get into the aquifer, oil would have to be put into the aquifer where it outcrops and is recharged by source water. This could be tens or even hundreds of miles away.

  48. tboyinhouston

    The truth is the GOP is grandstanding. The Canadians are nowhere near ready for this but the truth doesn’t sell well on Fox News.

  49. ClearAndPresentThinking

    “Rep. Barton says State Department reasoning an “insult” to America”

    Translation: Smokin’ Joe is worried his campaign contributors won’t be getting the big cut he promised. (I.e., Warren Buffet and BNSF are not in Barton’s camp.)

  50. olddispatcher

    I don’t know if rail tankers or pipeline are safer, but tankers do cost most to run. But by how much I cannot say since it has been a long time since I used one.

    And 15,000 gallons? That only 357 bbls. The tank cars I have worked with the in the past held 821 bbls but no one ever filled them to that point. We always left some space for thermal conditions.

    I do know I have never seen a rail tanker breeched by a back-hoe.

  51. gulfresident

    Politics as usual. Anything to damage the ability of America to become LESS dependent on foreign oil. THREE YEARS? C’mon. As the representative said, less time to win World War Two. Obamas buddies in the Middle East are laughing their as*es off. As are his buddies in the “alternative energy” research field. Anybody remember Solyndra? Hurt America to enrich your buddies. Bush/Halliburton 2? Yeah, exactly.

  52. dr

    The oil will be transported by Warren Buffetts railroad. He stands to make a tremendous profit.

  53. Everything that obama does is an insult to America. There is nothing he won’t do , to screw it up!

  54. RedHerring

    gulfresident – Good comparison. The Solyndra loan guarantee was 500 million, while Halliburton’s initial no-bid contract for Iraq was 7 billion. KBR made over 17 billion off the Iraq war in 03-06 alone.

    TexasForever, joseph cotton, texasholdum – Just stop.

  55. GDI

    Does anyone realize that the pipeline from the Athabasca tar sands to Liberty, Tx already exists? The XL is a 36″ bypass around the upper section that will increase the capacity by about 400,000 barrels per day.

    Here is another question that should be considered. What is at the Texas end of the pipeline? If the Canadians push another 400,000 bbl/day through what will we do with it? The BP (Tx City), Exxon (Baytown) and Shell (Deer Park) refineries are rated at about 500,000 bbl/day each and are currently at or near capacity. The point is that there is not 400,000 bbl/day of excess capacity on the gulf coast. In fact, the flow in the lower section of one of the existing pipelines has been reversed to move oil from the gulf coast to Oklahoma and Kansas.

    Although there is not excess refining capacity available there is excess export loading capacity on the gulf coast. Anyone want to guess what that means will happen to the oil?

  56. Dan X. McGraw

    GDI, I’m guessing that you believe that the Keystone XL will be piped to Houston and then shipped to other markets for refining? If that were the case, it seems Canada would be more interested in building a pipeline to one of its coast for shipment to other markets. I’d bet there is enough refining capacity in the Houston area to take on the tar sands.

  57. Nuffsaid500

    Insult to Texas

    Rep. Barton ‘reasoning’ is an “insult” to Texas

    NO convincing argument or evidence suggests that the Keystone XL project will benefit Texas: citizens, schools, counties, industry, business, farmers, ranchers, fuel supply, fuel cost, jobs, state budget, workers or job seekers.

    No case has been made that the project improves NATO Energy Security.

    Insult to Texas: citizens, industry, business, farmers, Ranchers …

  58. lb

    When gas is 5 bucks a gallon lets see you screams the loudest! But then that what Obama wants, then he can give out welfare gas stamps to all these losers!