Jan. 25, 2012
Brandon Janes

U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, has introduced a bill designed to circumvent the president's denial of the Keystone XL pipeline by putting the decision in the hands of Congress.

The Keystone for a Secure Tomorrow Act of 2012, or K-FAST Act, argues that the Canadian pipeline is of national interest and therefore should be up to the U.S. Congress to decide, according to Poe.

"The Keystone Pipeline is not only in our national interest but a matter of national security," Poe told the News on Tuesday.

"Now that the Obama administration has made their decision to stop the pipeline, Congress needs to weigh in on it," said Poe.

The bill is modeled on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act, a similar bill, passed in 1973, that secured the approval of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, a pipeline that provides roughly 20 percent of U.S. oil production, according to the Alaska Pipeline Co.

"The Alaska pipeline was similar and they found it was in the national interest, so it's been done before," said Poe.

If K-FAST passes the House it will face votes from a Democrat-held Senate and the approval of the Obama's administration.

The official State Department denial stated that a congressionally imposed deadline would not provide enough time to asses the alternative routes.

Poe said that his bill would allow Congress to immediately approve a pipeline route from Oklahoma, an alternative to the original route, which would have passed through a Nebraska drinking-water aquifer.

Among the seven cosponsors of the bill is Oklahoma Democrat Dan Boren.

"The purpose of the Keystone bill is to get this done now," said Poe.

"It's jobs. It's energy security and it will make Middle Eastern politics irrelevant to our national security."

The bill is one of several pieces of legislation in the works in Congress as a response to the president's decision, which many congressmen, including Poe and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, are blaming on election year politics.

Legislation by Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., would transfer Keystone XL authority to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, an independent agency -- and require it to approve the pipeline within 30 days, according to the Houston Chronicle.

TransCanada has already filed again for the permit and is currently in the process of determining the safest route for Keystone XL, one that avoids the drinking water aquifer, according to the company website.

The company expects to have a new route plan by October.