The PJ Tatler

White House Threatens Veto of Bill to Mandate Keystone XL

The White House lashed out Tuesday evening against a giant Republican transportation bill that would include mandatory approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, threatening to kill the legislation if it reaches the president’s desk.

The American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012 (H.R. 7) was introduced in the House on Jan. 31 by Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) and Subcommittee on Highways and Transit Chairman Jimmy Duncan (R-Tenn.).

A post on Speaker John Boehner’s blog Tuesday touted the bill as an answer to gas prices that are seeing an unseasonable rise right now.

“The bill also lifts President Obama’s moratorium on energy exploration and requires the administration to move forward on lease sales in the most resource-rich offshore areas,” Boehner’s office states. “It opens a small portion of ANWR that was first set aside in 1980 for oil and natural gas development. And it opens up new western areas for oil shale production, and creates a clear set of rules to promote investment in oil shale.

“Altogether these reforms will create more than a million new private-sector jobs.”

While many on the right are praising House Republicans for removing earmarks from the bill, others are lashing out at the increase on highway spending and the proviso of using domestic energy production revenues to refill the Highway Trust Fund.

The Office of Management and Budget, in a statement sent out last night by the White House, said it “strongly opposes” the legislation, claiming it would “make America’s roads, rails, and transit systems less safe, reduce the transportation options available to America’s traveling public, short circuit local decision-making, and turn back the clock on environmental and labor protections.”

Toward the end of the administration statement Keystone is addressed. “Further, this bill seeks to circumvent a longstanding process for determining whether cross-border pipelines are in the national interest by mandating the permitting of the Keystone XL pipeline project despite the fact that the pipeline route has yet to be identified and there is no complete assessment of its potential impacts, including impacts on health and safety, the economy, foreign policy, energy security, and the environment.”

The OMB memo, with an underline for emphasis, also threatens that the president would nix the bill at his desk.

“Because this bill jeopardizes safety, weakens environmental and labor protections, and fails to make the investments needed to strengthen the Nation’s roads, bridges, rail, and transit systems, the President’s senior advisors would recommend that he veto this legislation.”

H.R. 7 includes H.R. 3408, the Protecting Investment in Oil Shale the Next Generation of Environmental, Energy, and Resource Security (PIONEERS Act), which is scheduled for debate on the House floor today.