WASHINGTON - House Republicans ratcheted up pressure on the Obama administration to approve TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL pipeline, arguing that the project is essential amid high gas prices and the country's dependence on Middle Eastern oil.
A hearing focusing on the proposed legislation - the North American-Made Energy Security Act of 2011 - was held by the House Energy and Power Subcommittee on the afternoon of May 23 in Washington. The legislation is being backed by top Republicans on the panel.
The bill, if passed by both House and Senate, would expedite the Obama administration's consideration and approval of the pipeline. However, passage in the Democrat-controlled Senate is less likely than approval by the Republican-dominated House.
Pro-Pipeline witnesses dominated the May 23 hearing.
Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee invited a top executive at TransCanada as the key witness to testify at the hearing. He is Alex Pourbaix, TransCanada’s president for energy and oil pipelines.
Altogether, six witnesses offered testimony at the subcommittee hearing chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield. The Kentucky Republican is one of 16 GOP subpanel members. Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois is the ranking member among the 11 Democrats on the subpanel.
The invited witnesses in addition to Pourbaix included: Dan McFadyen, chairman of the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board; Murray Smith, president of Murray Smith & Associates; Stephen Kelly, assistant general president of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters; James Burkhard, managing director of Global Oil at IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates; and Jeremy Symons, senior vice president for conservation and education at the National Wildlife Federation.
Symons was the only witness to offer testimony in opposition to TransCanada's plan to extend its already-operating Keystone pipeline by adding on the Keystone XL.