If Republicans in Congress get their way, it won't matter what President Obama decides about the Keystone XL pipeline next month--a timeline forced upon him by Congress in December. Legislators are pushing a bill that would let Congress approve the project on its own.
North Dakota Senator John Hoeven, whose state is counting on the pipeline to help move its newfound bounty of shale oil, is drafting legislation that would see Congress give the green light to the project by using its constitutional powers to regulate commerce with foreign nations, an aide said.
Hoeven, who penned the Keystone provision in the payroll tax cut extension bill late last year that forces the White House to decide on the project in 60 days, is keen for the pipeline to be built to transport shale oil out of his state.
"We believe that express authority in the Constitution gives Congress the ability to approve and move forward on such a project," Ryan Bernstein, an energy advisor to Hoeven, told Reuters.
But the move by Congress is likely just a backup plan in case the Obama administration says no to the deal.
Reuters added that a Hoeven adviser said he is "working on the new approach with other key Republican senators, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and senators Richard Lugar, David Vitter, Lisa Murkowski and Mike Johanns."