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Bowman, ND 58623

UPDATED: Keystone XL pipeline bill now heads to president

February 06, 2015

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., speaks to reporters Thursday inside the U.S. Senate. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., speaks to reporters Thursday inside the U.S. Senate.

By Bryce Martin | Pioneer Editor |

Those pipes lying undisturbed just outside of Gascoyne could finally be put to use if President Barack Obama signs a bill triggering the beginning of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

The U.S. Senate approved the bipartisan Keystone XL Pipeline legislation Jan. 29, following years of roadblocks, including from Obama who said publicly that he would veto a bill if it was approved.

Now that the Senate and U.S. House of Representatives have passed the legislation, the final decision to start the controversial project rests in the president’s hands.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., authored and introduced the legislation to approve the pipeline.

“The administration has delayed this important infrastructure project for more than six years. Despite a series of environmental reviews, all of which conclude that the project will have no significant environmental impact, President Obama has repeatedly postponed a decision,” Hoeven said in a statement following the vote.

In a recent poll, 65 percent of registered voters said they believe the president should sign the bill approving the pipeline and only 22 percent believe he should veto it, Hoeven said.

“This is about energy, jobs, economic activity, national security, and building the right kind of infrastructure we need to achieve all of these things,” he said.

With a total capacity of 830,000 barrels per day, the pipeline would accept 100,000 barrels per day of Bakken crude oil and provide approximately 40,000 jobs. The project waited more than six years for its required presidential permit.

If signed, the legislation would authorize the construction, connection, operation and maintenance of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The fate of the controversial pipeline was a political decision that was already postponed for years.

Last year, the federal government showed no definite plans to wrap up its comment period — from federal agencies regarding the project — as they postponed the decision indefinitely.

Hoeven said earlier this year that the government would postpone a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline project until after the November election.

Those elections passed and several legislators called for Congress to finally hold a vote.

Because of the delay, be it “tactical politics” as suggested by Hoeven, or a legitimate delay—the U.S. State Department explained the delay as “uncertainty created by the ongoing litigation in the Nebraska Supreme Court”—it has put the small Bowman County city of Gascoyne on the map.

Since 2011, pipes to be used for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline have been stockpiled along Highway 12 east of Gascoyne.

Over the seasons, they lie unused, gathering snow in the winter and dust in the summer.

The vast quantities of mainly bluish-green pipes often pique the curiosity of passersby.

The pipes stand hoping one day to be used to create one of the most studied transcontinental pipelines in history.

The Calgary, Alberta-based oil giant TransCanada Corp. submitted its initial application for approval of the pipeline over five years ago. It was to run from Hardisty, Alberta to an existing pipeline near Steele City, Neb.

The Keystone Pipeline would reduce transport of oil by railway, which caused massive delays for farmers during this year’s harvest and is considered dangerous after the explosion of an oil car last year near Casselton and some subsequent derailments.