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May 24
​Keystone Pipeline Bill Passes House
On May 21, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3: the Northern Route Approval Act, by a vote of 241-175. H.R. 3 states that presidential approval is not needed to build the Keystone XL Pipeline project. The proposed Keystone XL project has been hotly debated for the past couple of years. The project would pipe oil from the tar sands of Canada to the Gulf Coast area. The bill moves to the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future.

Although several phases of the pipeline have already been built, the most controversial part of the system – which runs from Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Nebraska, is pending approval by the U.S. Department of State. Concerns were initially raised over the pipeline’s original proposed route through the Sand Hills region of Nebraska, which is an ecologically sensitive area. After negotiations, TransCanada changed the proposed route to lessen "disturbance of land, water resources and special areas." 

Local governments have been split on this issue. While concerns have been raised about the potential environmental and safety impacts of installing the pipeline, including oil spills and the extraction method used for tar sands oil – which creates more greenhouse gases than traditional forms of oil extraction – the pipeline will also bring jobs and will strengthen the tax base for rural communities. 

NACo urges the Administration and Congress to expedite the comprehensive review and submission for the approval process, the Presidential Permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, and other petroleum pipeline projects.

Contact: Julie Ufner jufner@naco.org 202.942-4269

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