Republicans make another Keystone push over Obama rejection

House Republicans drafted another bill to speed work on the Keystone XL oil pipeline after previous efforts failed to overturn President Barack Obama’s rejection of a permit for the project.

The legislation proposed by Representative Lee Terry of Nebraska and other Republicans would let the section of the proposed TransCanada Corp. (TRP) pipeline across Montana and South Dakota advance without Obama’s approval. Obama rejected the project in January, and urged the company to reapply while a revised route is studied to avoid an aquifer in Nebraska.

Republicans have made unsuccessful efforts to force a permit for the project, including adding language in the House version of a highway spending bill that failed in the Democrat- led Senate. The latest bid also is unlikely to win Senate backing.

The legislation is a “new, improved Keystone bill” that would create thousands of jobs and increase U.S. energy security by allowing work on another part of the project to commence, Terry said today in Washington.

The legislation would waive the requirement for additional environmental reviews of the route from Canada to Nebraska’s northern border. Nebraska officials are studying the impact of a revised route filed by Calgary-based TransCanada across the state.

Critics say extracting oil from Canada’s tar sands in Alberta releases more greenhouse gases than conventional drilling. They also said the original route threatened the Ogallala drinking-water aquifer in Nebraska.

The U.S. State Department must approve the project because it crosses an international border. Terry previously introduced legislation that would require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve TransCanada’s Keystone application within 30 days of receipt.

While there were no plans to bring the new bill for a vote, Terry said that “if an opportunity arises we are poised to take advantage.”