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H.R. 684: Keystone XL Pipeline Construction and Jobs Preservation Act

This has been an XL-sized political issue from the beginning, and it’s not changing now.


At a proposed length of 1,210 miles, the Keystone XL pipeline is a project planned by the company TC Energy to transport oil from Canada to the U.S. (The company was called TransCanada until 2019.) The pipeline would run through three states: North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska.

The project has raised the ire of many environmentalists. It’s also opposed by many Native Americans, since it would run across a lot of reservation land and some sacred sites. In November 2015, President Barack Obama officially rejected the project, after his State Department’s review concluded it would be environmentally damaging while only creating 35 jobs.

In January 2017, on his fourth day in office, President Donald Trump issued an executive order moving the project forward. And in March 2019, he issued a presidential permit for the project.

On January 20, 2021, his first day in office, President Joe Biden nixed the project once again by cancelling its presidential permit.

What the legislation does

The Keystone XL Pipeline Construction and Jobs Preservation Act would re-authorize the pipeline’s assembly and declare that a presidential permit is not required to do so.

The House version was introduced on February 2 as bill H.R. 684, by Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND0). The Senate version was introduced the same day as bill S. 171, by Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT).

What supporters say

Supporters argue that the legislation helps the economy and improves American self-reliance in the energy sector, rather than relying on unstable or dictatorial Middle Eastern countries.

“President Biden’s decision to revoke the Keystone XL pipeline permit is an attack on the way of life for thousands of people who rely on energy production to feed their families,” Rep. Armstrong said in a press release. “The Keystone XL pipeline would transport safe and reliable energy across our nation, providing thousands of American jobs in the process and increasing our national security. We must do everything we can to see this terrible decision reversed and fight for energy policies that help move North Dakota and our nation forward.”

“Americans are already struggling to make ends meet and keep food on the table because of the pandemic. Yet with the stroke of a pen, President Biden killed thousands of energy and union jobs, eliminated tax revenue for impoverished communities, raised energy costs for Americans, and put our national security and energy independence at risk,” Sen. Daines said in a separate press release. “We must reverse Biden’s disastrous decision and send a clear message that supporting American workers is more important than supporting Saudi Arabia and allowing radical environmentalists to cash in on campaign promises.”

What opponents say

Opponents counter that the pipeline would contribute to a climate crisis, and weakens the U.S. standing on the world stage when it comes to environmental issues.

“The Keystone XL pipeline disserves the U.S. national interest,” President Biden wrote in his executive order. “At home, we will combat the crisis with an ambitious plan to build back better, designed to both reduce harmful emissions and create good clean-energy jobs… The United States must be in a position to exercise vigorous climate leadership in order to achieve a significant increase in global climate action and put the world on a sustainable climate pathway. Leaving the Keystone XL pipeline permit in place would not be consistent with my administration’s economic and climate imperatives.”

Plus, even some ostensible environmentalists support the pipeline. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who leans left on most political and environmental issues, nonetheless supports the pipeline.

Odds of passage

The House version has attracted 120 cosponsors, all Republicans. It awaits a potential vote in the House Energy and Commerce, Natural Resources, or Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

The Senate version has attracted 16 cosponsors, all Republicans. It awaits a potential vote in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Odds of passage are low in the Democratic-controlled Congress.

Last updated Feb 23, 2021. View all GovTrack summaries.

The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Feb 2, 2021.

Keystone XL Pipeline Construction and Jobs Preservation Act

This bill authorizes the TransCanada Keystone Pipeline to construct, connect, operate, and maintain the pipeline facilities in Phillips County, Montana, for the import of oil from Canada to the United States.