WASHINGTON — The House approved language Thursday that would force approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.
The proposal, from Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., would strip authority over the project from the State Department and President Barack Obama and give it to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
It also requires FERC to approve the pipeline within 30 days, while carving out an exemption for the portion that would run through Nebraska. Terry's bill was rolled into broader energy legislation that passed 237-187. All House members from Nebraska and western Iowa voted for it.
"This is a country that can stand on its own feet --- by utilizing the resources under American soil and the secure resources of our trusted northern neighbor," Terry said. "We don't want to continue relying on politically oppressive and environmentally reckless nations like Venezuela for our energy needs."
A Senate proposal has been introduced that would also force approval of the pipeline, without involving FERC, but it's not clear whether it stands any chance of moving forward. Terry told The World-Herald on Thursday that he has growing optimism for Senate action.
Republican leaders are putting a lot of thought into strategies for forcing a vote on Keystone XL in the Senate, Terry said, and a number of Senate Democrats support the project.
Pipeline opponents say it makes no sense for Congress to dictate approval of a project before the final route has been determined. TransCanada Inc. has agreed to reroute the pipeline around Nebraska's Sand Hills, but that new route is still in the works.
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